Engage - Calm - Distract: Understanding and responding to children in crisis

A resource kit for EMS and emergency department providers

Children pose particular challenges to EMS and emergency department providers under both daily and disaster operations. In addition to the unique physical differences and medical needs, children have different emotional needs that providers find difficult to address. Pediatric patients can trigger responders’ own emotions, interfering with their information processing and decision making. Responders have reported that their own emotional responses, lack of experience in working with children, and the emotions of family members can negatively affect the quality of care when responding to pediatric emergencies.

This resource kit provides information, strategies, and activities to help both pre-hospital and hospital emergency providers respond more quickly to the emotional needs of children and parents in crisis. Providing comfort, listening, and reducing distress reactions in children, as well as their caregivers, allows you to focus more on providing needed medical treatment and can lead to better immediate and long-term physical and emotional outcomes for your patient.
The resource kit consists of two parts: 

“Engage-Calm-Distract” provides foundational material on pediatric distress and information on applying developmentally appropriate strategies and activities for engaging, calming and distracting children and their caregivers.

Engage Calm Distract resource kit

The “Pediatric Emotional Distress Reference System” (PEDRS) serves as a quick reference guide for use in the field to help identify common distress reactions and calming and distraction activities by developmental level. The PEDRS is cross referenced to both the BroselowTM and HandTevyTM  weights and colors to assist in identify the child’s approximate age.

Pediatric emotional distress reference system


For more information contact the responder health and safety coordinator.