Fireman Sam

“Playground entrapment – child stuck between metal bars”.

Control got on the radio and had some more information about the call. “4 Year old – conscious & alert – not injured, just stuck”.

Although this didn’t seem like a medical emergency and thus probably best left to FIRE to deal with; I was around the corner, so I decided to respond.

Veteran EMS personnel have an innate ability to remain composed and come up with solutions in difficult and testing situations. I wasn’t a veteran though. Au contraire – I practically had novice printed all over my brand new, crisp, not even one speck of blood, still smelt of a Chinese factory, emergency vest. I certainly didn’t want to embarrass myself, but – “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”, my father says – so off I went.

Twenty seconds later, I found myself at the edge of the park. I was immediately surrounded by frightened mothers, all pointing to an even more terrified woman, in the left-hand corner of the playing area. I started to regret coming to this party. I was the first on scene, and clearly outside of my comfort zone. I took my red bag out, knowing full well that I wouldn’t be using it. Be that as it may, I like being fully prepared when responding to an emergency. “You never know”, my father says. Yes, my father has several important mantras, so WHAT!

I walked up the hill towards the play area, and found a child that was indeed very much stuck. His hysterical mother was not helping the situation whatsoever. She was crying and flailing her hands and it was making the child and me quite uncomfortable. “Please try and calm down”, I whispered, “you’re scaring the kid.”

I took a deep breath and said, “Ok, I’ll try to extricate your son but I must admit that I don’t have much experience with this.”

Her eyes bulged as she said in a shrill English accent, “I don’t believe it – Then why did they send you!?”

“What number did you call?” I asked.


“Well, that’s why they sent me. 101 is the ambulance service and I ‘work’ for them. Had you called 102 you would have got the Fire department, and they are far more experienced with these sorts of predicaments,” I said with more than a hint of sarcasm in my voice.

“So what should we do now?”

“First let me ascertain if FIRE is on their way.”

When our call-center gets calls such as these, they usually have the common sense to alert the correct department. I called Control and confirmed that both services were indeed en-route with an ETA of 5 minutes.

I was alone on this one for a while, so I got to work.

The way I see it; however the foot got in, it can come out, as long as the ‘stuck’ person is cool and collected. Problem is, he wasn’t; so I began my ‘treatment’ by handing the screeching child a pack of Winkies to calm him down.

“What are you doing?” There was that shrill whine again.

“Aren’t you going to get him out?” – “Why are you giving him candy?”

“I can hardly be expected to rescue a wriggling hysterical child!” “First let’s calm him down and then we’ll focus on a plan to remove his tiny foot out of the even tinier hole.”

My reasoning made sense and Mum took a step back.

With Winkies in hand, the child was a bit more composed and I started applying the basic tools for a foot extraction;

Apple juice from his Sippy cup, and Moisturizer from his Mum’s purse.

I applied them both (don’t try this at home), and after a little wiggling, lifting, pushing, and pulling the child was free, just in time for the ambulance and fire engine to turn up.

First attempted leg extraction: SUCCESS !



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