Calling an Ambulance?


New Member
Hi there. I'm an infrequent poster (as you can tell by my post count). Just quick update before I get into my question. My son is 8...diagnosis'd with ODD at 3 yrs the moment, we're in "crisis" mode at school...there's serious talk of outplacement at a special school...he's having frequent meltdowns at school, spending much of his day with the school social worker, being sent home about once a week, refusing to go to school about once a week (today being one of those days), and TODAY we finally have our appointment for a re-evaluation at a local Behavioral Center after several unreturned phone calls to several centers and several arguements with our insurance company to get coverage for such visits. Let's just say home life isn't peachy either. I physically ache from having to restrain him and my heart aches from having to deal with all of it. So, that's it in a nutshell. So, onto my question...

In the recent "crisis" at school, the school social worker and youth officer have mentioned several times that we should not hesistate to call an ambulance to have our son taken away to the hospital and admitted for a psychiatric evaluation and it would certainly expedite things. I'm not sure how I feel about this. While he's certainly a handful and very draining on all of us, both physically and emotionally, he does not intentionally try to hurt himself or others, so an ambulance seems drastic to me. Do you think it seems appropriate? At what point does it become the right decision?

Things have taken such a quick and drastic turn for the worse recently with no apparent reason and I really feel quite overwhelmed and like I have no direction from anybody. When he doesn't want to go to school, I feel like there is no set protocall and I don't know what I'm supposed to do. When he was first diagnosed, they told us we were doing every possible thing they would have told us to do. Now that he's older and getting worse rather than better, I'm just so out of ideas and I feel like I'm drowning. I just can't wait until our evaluation at 5 pm today, but of course, I'm sure they're not going to give us any answers.

But, if you have any ideas/feedback on the ambulance question of mine, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks so much!


New Member
If his behavior is dangerous, to himself or others, even if it is not intentional, I might consider calling an ambulance- for medical transport to a hospital. ANd that is how I would word it when I called.(medical transport to a hospital)
I know there is differing opinions here and different dispatch set ups etc state by state and even county by county. Some say call police. But here where I live, I would call for ambulance, altho police do come with an ambulance call, the mindset here for the responders is different for an ambulance call than for a police call. ANd typically, patients arriving via ambulance are seen in ER more quickly than those coming in on their own.


member since 1999
Sorry you're dealing with- this escalation. It's the pits.

Having called 911 more times than I can remember, I can tell you what our criteria was (but it is different for each family): Any behavior that was violent, to the point that it could not be contained. Even at 6, there were times when it was impossible to restrain thank you (you probably know how those raging kids can be 10 times stronger than you'd ever expect). Also, raging that I could restrain but that went on longer than an hour or so. Any time he ran, I called 911 - his response to the police who picked him up determined whether he'd be transported to hospital. *Any* suicidal/homocidal gesture, period.

Regardless of whether he was intentionally or unintentionally trying to hurt someone else or himself, the bottom line is he was unsafe and I couldn't protect any of us. Our situation was compounded by the fact that I have a nonambulatory kid who cannot protect himself from flying objects - more than a few episodes with- thank you where I had to call the police/EMTs because I couldn't catch him and he was completely trashing our house, putting all his sibs at risk but especially Boo.

*Always* when I called when he was younger, I requested assistance with- an unstable mentally ill child. While the police always show up with- the ambulance in our village, they knew they weren't there to arrest but to assist with- transport. By the time he was older and an arrest might possibly have been more appropriate (maybe, who knows), our village staff knew my family well enough that they would just contain and transport him.

I know the first dozen times or so I called 911, I felt like a complete *idiot*. I mean, what parent can't control their kid? :wink: But this is gfgland and truthfully, there are few of us who really can safely contain an over-the-top raging difficult child. You may still be able to do it now, I don't know. Unfortunately, if things continue to escalate as difficult child gets bigger... you may end up having to take this step. Hindsight being 20/20, I'm glad I called early and often - probably saved us a lot of physical pain and it certainly highlighted the fact that thank you was an incredibly unstable kiddo.

One other thought - we always had it documented in thank you's outpatient medical record that we were trained on a regular basis on how to safely restrain him (CYA). However, once he hit about 9, we were told that it was no longer safe to do a single-person hold and if he needed to be restained, I needed to call 911 and have him transported. It really boils down to safety - for you, the family, and difficult child.

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
I'm with Sue on this topic. I've also had to call 911 too many times to count.

In my home it comes down to self harming, running or violent & aggressive behaviors. As with Sue, the cops on our beat know us well & understand that the call is for helping a mentally unstable child, not criminal behaviors.

It's a hard decision to make.


New Member
Mine is a lot older now and I had to have that done last year. However, I would have done that a lot sooner had I known the doors it could have opened for him. I do know it's a hard decision to make, sometimes.


Active Member
Eeyore's first ambulance trip, he was 6. It did start to expedite services we'd been begging for nearly a year to get.
Our "line in the sand" is drawn at physical violence to self or others. If our difficult child crosses that line, I call 911 and ask for a medical transport to ER to evaluation. This is part of our crisis plan that therapist and psychiatrist and our County Mental health have helped us put together. I do not accept violent behavior, end of story. Also, if she is seriously talking suicidal with seriousness, not just screeching "this is not fair, I am gonna kill myself". I am talking about when she is just "not there" emotionally and is super down and starts in with it would just be easier for everyone if she was dead. That would get me on the phone with crisis team immediately.

Sorry you are having such a hard time of it! been there done that wayyyyy to many times. If you feel for the safety of difficult child, yourself or little ones in the family, that is when I, personally, would call 911! Definetly gets the ball rolling for more intense help from those who should have been listening to us in the first place!!

Hugs to you,


New Member
Thanks so much for your replies! It means a LOT!

I don't think we're there *yet*. Yes, we have the physical battles of trying to get him up to his room and KEEP him there to let him scream it out and whatever he needs to do to cool off and get over his ODD fit and remove him from the general family population where he might twitch, kick, whale, or otherwise accidentally hurt someone, but he's not at the point where he's trying to push anyone down the stairs, throw things at people, hit, bite, or anything of that nature...and I hope it stays that way. I don't fear for my safety (though I could probably use a good workout at the gym) or anyone elses *at this point*.

Ok...we're leaving in about 10 minutes for our evaluation. Let's just hope we can get him in the car. Wish us luck!