If there's one thing I've learned over the past 10 years, it's to know asthma terminology. It helps immensely when I am at the ER to be able to say, "He's asthmatic, his peak flow is usually 350-right now it's 200." Knowing your kid's peak flow gives them a concrete reading, rather than just saying "he's having a hard time breathing".
We're also lucky enough to be able to use a friend's oxygen saturation monitor. So I can also say, "their oxygen level is reading at 89 on my sat monitor" (you should be be closer to 100). They usually admit the kids to the hospital if their oxygen level is at 89 or lower.
I tell them not to bother looking for retraction, because my son suffers from air trapping and experiences the 'barrel chest'. Retraction is when they are trying so hard to breath that they use all their accessory muscles, usually sucking in the skin surrounding the chest when they breath. You can see the skin suck in along the collar bone, and in the 'u' shaped bone at the base of the neck. You can also 'count the ribs' because the skin sucks in between the ribs.
You should of course know what maintenance medications they're on and what doses. Also, include any rescue medications, or if they are on oral steroids now or have received a steroid injection.
I also always let them know how many time the kids have been admitted to the hospital too, so they know if I'm there, it's serious!
So, use that terminology- tell them peak flow readings, sat levels, retraction, maintenance medications and rescue medications. I also usually tell them, "I know I'm in over my head, they need oxygen and solumedrol" (IV steroids). Plus round-the-clock nursing care & respiratory therapists who get paid to stay up all night and monitor them.
Hopefully none of you have kids who end up being admitted to the hospital, but if you are in the traige area, be sure to use all the terminology you know so they listen to you and get you in quickly!