Tuesday, 10 September 2013

#16 Accident and Emergency

It's 10pm on Tuesday evening and the baby is unusually active. What's even more unusual is that the living room is filled with 6 exhausted family members laughing at every move that Amelia makes. The reason we're doing this is because of the traumatic event that occurred 6 hours earlier.

Whilst I was returning home from a work visit to Llandudno, I received a call from an unknown number. I tend to not answer them as I simply hear about PPI but I decided to press accept and as expected heard the voice of a complete stranger but this time her voice was local and filled with genuine concern. The call lasted less than a minute but by that point I was throwing myself forward on the bus as if I thought I could somehow propel the 52A to reach its destination as quickly as possible. The reason why I was doing this was because I had just learned that my 18 month daughter had just fallen into the canal....still strapped into her buggy.

I was ten minutes away but it felt like ten miles and once I got off and ran towards the scene, the seriousness had spread. Two police cars and multiple members of the public were waiting for me as well as two ambulances, one of which unaware to me had just passed me with my daughter inside en route to Alder Hey Children's Hospital.

I was only operating mentally at all due to the fact that the stranger on the phone had informed me that despite the event, child and childminder were not seriously hurt. The family childminder was situated in the back of a car, delirious with shock and pain that she couldn't see Amelia, who by now was halfway to hospital. She  was soaking wet and already worried that I'd disown her and cut her branch of the family tree clean off. Meanwhile the stranger caller now had a face and was re-enacting her version of events. Somehow the pram has lost it's footing on the side of the canal and despite best efforts plunged into the Leeds-Liverpool canal head first. The childminder immediately jumped in and raised the pram above sea level but due to a vicious shopping spree filled with potatoes and carrots was unable to keep the pram safe. Instead she managed to instead the child and concentrated on the baby sans buggy. By this point, the minder's feet had become wedged in canal mud 6 feet below water and panic increased with the sounds of screaming from both woman and child. Those screams were heard by 'the stranger' and her partner who raced over a bridge, down steps and to the canal edge. Baby was immediately rescued as was minder, who suffered a bad wrist strain being innocently pulled from her possible doom.

With the worst over, it became a race against time to restore warmth and calm to my daughter and wet clothes were substituted for dry adult sizes garments which was the shirt term solution before a very speedy response by two thirds of the emergency services. The baby was declared fit for life and given age appropriate emergency clothing and bundled into an ambulance and driven past my running self.

With my childminder en route the opposite way to Fazakerley Hospital, I was given a ride by the police to Alder Hey. Before that happened I said thanks to all concerned and surveyed the other survivor to this tale, the buggy. Other than wet and smelling of Bootle it was otherwise also alive. By this point while I was racing to Alder Hey, my other half had been informed by 'the stranger' of the last ten minutes and had left her place of work to rush to her daughters bedside.

After a frustrating amount of traffic and decent small talk with PC Somebody, I got to Alder Hey first (winner) and heard Amelia's cries 100m before finally being reunited with her. She was wrapped in what seemed like a brown sack and looked blotchy and upset. My parental XP was dramatically increased once she began to calm down in my arms but that was soon quashed when Sarah ran in with tears not far behind. The doctors reassured us that she appears quite well aside from a fishy odour and a slightly lower body temperature.

This good news was however, not as accessible to our family members who were beginning to hear the news second hand. My calls to the worried family ranged from delirious panic to controlled concern. My demeanour during all this had been rather calm with no visible tears, of which later on my wife was angry to hear about given that I had easily blubbed through the third act of Toy Story 3.

We spent three hours in A&E to see that Amelia was confidently free from danger which is difficult when we had no clothes, appropriate food or milk or even a pair of shoes, which she had lost to the sea. Eventually after I moaned at the nurses, we were able to take her home to comfortable surroundings with Sky TV. During all this, we also had the childminder at the other hospital and family members were split to help each party. She was desperate to see Amelia and receive a form of closure to the whole event and she got that chance as I write this now. A lot of tears were witnessed and Amelia was happy to forgive her as long as tickles, kisses and baby talk were in heavy supply.

With that, Amelia is now happily asleep after her cold dip and several people will be thanked after their help, support and warm wishes. Perhaps most of all should be given to the two people that potentially save Amelia's life. First of which is 'the stranger' who heard the screams and literally gave a helping hand. She has been in touch and is excited to meet Amelia under better circumstances later this week. The second lifesaver is undoubtedly the family childminder. Yes, Amelia fell in the canal on her watch but she also jumped into action immediately and put her own life on the line. Thanks to you all.

It was maybe the longest day of my life but it has taught me a thing or two, one of which is that I'm a parent and although I have been so for eighteen months now, I now know what it really means to be one.

Adam Yates