The alert came through - a paediatric cardiac arrest. A fellow staff nurse and me quickly ran to resus to prepare the bed space
With an estimated time of arrival of four minutes the child arrived fast and CPR was already in progress.
I was delegated the role as scribe nurse which involved me documenting everything that was happening with accurate times. I further had to notify the team when two minutes was up in order that a rhythm check could be performed.
There were a range of different professionals present as well as a very emotional mother.
After several rounds of CPR there was still no signs of life and the child was pronounced deceased.
”Then I saw the child and felt the adrenaline kick in, which is what I feel helped me to stay focused on my role”
Due to the death being unexplained the SUDIC protocol was applied which involved a series of tests. The father soon arrived and the child and family were allowed their privacy in the bereavement room. After some time, me and a colleague worked with the family after consent to complete a memory box which included a lock of hair as well as hand and footprints.
As soon as I heard the alert come through for a paediatric cardiac arrest I remember feeling numb. The panic soon followed. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the amount of professionals around the bed space as there was so many people working on such a small child.
Then I saw the child and felt the adrenaline kick in, which is what I feel helped me to stay focused on my role.
”The multi-disciplinary team all worked together with one aim of resuscitating the child”
When treatment was stopped I felt empty, in shock and of course compassion for the bereaved mother. All I could do at this point was to offer my deepest sympathies. In the bereavement room, although I felt unspeakable sadness, I was determined to provide the best possible care to the child and family.
There was nothing at all that was good about this situation. However, from a professional point of view, I felt I did well in my role as a scribe nurse. The multi-disciplinary team all worked together with one aim of resuscitating the child. Although this wasn’t successful I feel everybody around me tried their best. The experience made me understand SUDIC and the process involved, so that the next time this situation occurs, I may be slightly more prepared.
Throughout the resuscitation attempt, everything I had learned at university and placement started to come together. I felt as though I could understand what was being done and why. After the event I had a debrief with one of the emergency nurse practitioners who answered all of my questions, which helped me process a lot.
”I will continue to support the family of children in our care in the decision making process and ensure I always gain consent”
Due to this being my first ever cardiac arrest I did feel panic and fear, but I was well supported by my colleagues. I will continue to support the family of children in our care in the decision making process and ensure I always gain consent. I will care for children with dignity and respect.
If this situation were to happen again, I will certainly feel more prepared and have more confidence when supporting a family following a death.
The experience, of course emotional and difficult, was as valuable as it could have been.
Demi Butler is a student paediatric nurse whose most recent placement was in an emergency department.