What An EMT Wants You To Know About Laryngomalacia
Laryngomalacia or literally "soft larynx" is a very common condition of infancy and is the most common cause of inspiratory breathing noises in infants. Although well known to doctors, nurses, as well as parents of children who have the condition, it is not necessarily well known by members of the emergency services. Therefore you can be a resource to your local police officers, firefighters, and EMTs.
When to call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room:
-If the child stops breathing.
-If you witness the child turning blue (this is called Cyanosis).
-Episodes of Apnea, or interruptions in normal breathing,
-Any episodes of respiratory distress characterized by the retraction or sinking in of the chest
and/or neck muscles for extended periods of time.
So what can you do?
Contact your local First Aid Squad or EMS providing agency and inform them that a member of your household has laryngomalacia. The squad or agency will then ensure that the EMTs in your area will be made aware of your residence and the possibility of laryngomalacia complications in their response area. Also, in the event of an emergency, be prepared to briefly inform the responding emergency personnel as to what laryngomalacia is, and its resulting complications. Sometimes the fire department or a police officer will arrive before an ambulance and will have only basic knowledge of first aid; so it's important for you to be well informed and ready to help them help you.
It's also important to be ready to explain the condition to the 911 dispatcher as well as if your child has a medical apnea monitor. By making the dispatcher aware of the condition and the monitor, they will be able to make the decision to send paramedics, who are better equipped and trained to deal with more advanced medical conditions.
While you are out with your child (or the child is at daycare etc) it's a good idea for the child to wear a medical alert bracelet in the event of an emergency.
Lieutenant Matthew Windram is an EMT and firefighter in New Jersey.