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Media Releases | St John Ambulance
AMBULANCE: A heartfelt thank you
  04 Oct 2021

Content warning: This story describes a critically ill child.


When her daughter became incredibly ill, Sarah had to make the phone call that no one wants to - especially not on Christmas. 

Over a year on, Sarah has been able to return to that terrible day, and got in contact with us to share her story and gratitude.

“This is an email I've been meaning to write for a little while now, so here goes...

“On Christmas Day 2020 I had to make the call no parent wants to make when my then 18-month old little girl was unresponsive in her cot after a bout of vomiting.

“The Triple Zero (000) operator I was transferred to was calm and supportive. Even though our house was full of family and fun like most houses on Christmas Day, I felt like we were in our own little vacuum of terror as I kept counting her breathing, reporting on her colour and tried to think about what to pack in the nappy bag.

“We live out rural and the crews (an ambulance and an intensive care paramedic) arrived as quickly as possible. I was reassured the entire time by the operator that they were coming to us with lights and sirens.

“By then the Christmas spirit had dulled, the music was turned off, everyone was out of the pool and people started to head home. We had neighbours waiting on street corners and holding gates open to wave the crews in as soon as they arrived.

“In they came, and to be honest I don't really remember what was said or asked, but I do remember crying with relief that help had arrived.

“Decisions were made quickly and confidently, and before long we were in the back of the ambulance. The paramedic – whose name escapes me but he was the ultimate gentleman – who sat with me in the back, and the intensive care paramedic made the call to put an IV line in Annie's arm right then and there in the driveway.

“We now know that decision is likely to have saved her life. That detail probably would have been forgotten by me except that all the hospital staff were so impressed that it had happened before she arrived, so it stuck in my mind."

“What has happened since then has been repeated admissions and lots of tests, questions and worry, so much worry. It's a long story but Annie has recently been diagnosed with an ultra-rare genetic metabolic condition called Tango 2. She's one of about 100 diagnosed worldwide.

“While we don't know what prompted her vomiting on Christmas Day, what we do know is that she most definitely entered a metabolic crisis as a result of it. The fluids she started to receive right then and there began the process of protecting her heart from stopping, protecting her brain and muscles from breaking down any further and protecting her kidneys from being overloaded.

“The metabolic crises that are part of the Tango 2 condition are life threatening, and early intervention with fluid support has saved her life twice now, the first of which was Christmas Day in that very ambulance.

“It feels like offering thanks is so cheap when you consider what those paramedics did for us, but thanks is all I have to give.

“Thank you for giving her a second birthday, another Easter, a chance to learn to walk, run, to talk and giggle."

“Thank you for giving us another Christmas with our little girl. We don't know much about what the future holds for our Annie. We do however know what we need to do to manage this condition as best as we possibly can, to give her the best chance to go on and live a happy, healthy life. But this is Annie's journey now, and we take every day as a gift. The rest doesn't matter.  

“We just wanted to thank you all, as an organisation, for your help and reassurance that day. We also wondered if it might be possible to pass this on to the crews that attended, just to remind them that they make such a difference in people's lives. Every. Single. Day.

“Sometimes how much of an impact is probably pretty obvious, sometimes it might seem insignificant like it may have that day with us. The beauty of hindsight now shows us just how significant their collective actions really were, and we are forever beyond grateful for them. So, thank you. Thank you.”

Thanks to Sarah for getting in touch with us, and thank you to the paramedics on scene who did such a wonderful job. Those involved have been contacted and Sarah's message passed on.

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