We’re taking a quick break from the hard topics series so I can share a personal story from two weeks ago, one that illustrates why children who have experienced trauma thrive during a crisis. This time, this crisis happened to me when the two oldest and I were nearly two miles in the woods.
If you want the details on the incident, watch the video below. In short, we were hiking about 90 minutes from home in a state park we had never been to. I had an unexpected medical issue and blacked out for a short time. Alone, in the woods, my teen and pre-teen had two choices- they could panic- or they could dig deep and call for help.
After a few moments, I woke into a dream-like state and heard my oldest on the phone with the 911 dispatcher. My pre-teen was on the phone with mom, who was working on getting there herself. As I came to when the park rangers and paramedics found me, I heard nothing but praise for my boys as they expertly guided the first responders to our location and did everything asked, like flagging down help from other hikers and counting my breaths.
As scary as the situation was, I’m completely fine. After a few hours in a nearby emergency room, it was determined to be a minor issue. A funny side note to the story is that when I passed out, I did so in a red ant hill. Recovering from the 75 painful, itchy bites was way, way worse than the incident itself.
That day highlights that people who have experienced trauma live on a heightened state of alert. For the most part, and in our boys specifically, they have a share fight or flight response. In this situation, they stayed calm, called for help and followed all the directions the emergency officials gave them. They knew how to call out landmarks (we were under a high tension power line) and relay details about the geography to guide them to our exact spot quickly.
Proud doesn’t even describe how I feel about them and their response to the situation. Though, it may be some time before we head back into the great outdoors. My wife gave me the three name call when she climbed up in the ambulance at the trailhead and then promptly grounded me for life.