As a parent, once of your biggest fears is something happening to your child. Thanks to a new campaign by St John Ambulance, you can now learn basic baby first aid skills, including Baby CPR for free.
Before being parents, both my husband and I were both active members of St John Ambulance, and had been for a number of years. Whilst treating, a lot of patients liked to chat and ask questions about what we did, how we got into it, and why we got into it. Well for me, I have a simple answer. I like to help people. The feeling you get when you know you’ve made a difference to that persons life in their moment of need in amazing. But also, there’s an element of being in control. And I don’t mean that in a weird or sadistic way; I just mean that imagine how much better you would feel handling an emergency situation, or any situation for that matter if you’ve had even the most basic training, rather than going in unsure of what your doing and potentially panicking?
“How do you stay calm in an emergency situation?”
This is a question I got asked a lot. And I mean A LOT. And to be honest, it’s a difficult one to answer. I’m not some superhuman, I get scared. But when those moments happen, adrenaline kicks in, and you just get on with it as you were trained to do. You don’t stop to think about the details. You have have time to.
I do remember getting comments off the back of my answer along the lines of “Well, when it’s your own child, you won’t act so calmly”.
Well actually I disagree. We had an incident earlier this year where we ended up calling for an ambulance. It was the first time in my life I’ve ever had to call an ambulance for myself or someone I knew, and yes, I was scared.
My dairy intolerant son who had just turned 1 not even a week before was having an adverse reaction to some dairy he had accidentally been given by a babysitting friend. He was vomiting so much that he couldn’t get enough breaths in between, and he had started to have violent shakes and lips turning blue. At this point, we realised this was no ordinary vomiting, and called for an ambulance. Following the call, once his stomach was empty, he was able to get some breaths in, but was extremely upset by the situation, and started to hyperventilate. In the 7-10 minutes between me making the 999 call and the ambulance actually arriving, between my husband and I, we’d managed to calm him down so that when the paramedics arrived, he was sitting on the bathroom floor whimpering to himself. Thankfully, after a long period of checks and monitoring in case of relapses, he was deemed OK to stay home with us keeping an eye on him.
My point to this story is that after he’d been assessed and was fully relaxed again, the paramedics commented on how calm and “laid back” both he and we were considering the situation, and asked if this was due to it being a regular occurrence. But actually, when it came down to it, it was due to our previous training that meant that when an emergency came up, even one as personal as being our own child, we remained calm throughout the situation and as a result, were able to calm our son down before the ambulance even arrived. Which was likely another reason he didn’t need to go to hospital in the end.
So my top tips for dealing with a child emergency?
- Stay calm. You may not feel calm, but you need to look it. If your calm, your child will automatically feel calmer.
- Act normally. Another “stay calm” reference, but if your flapping about, drawing attention to whatever is wrong, the your child is more likely to panic too. So act normally, talk to them in the way your normally would, sing a nursery rhyme – basically anything to keep their minds off of what’s actually happening.
- Call an ambulance FIRST. If the situation requires an ambulance, then always call first before starting any first aid or CPR. Those extra few minutes you’ll gain could make the world of difference. Plus, if your unsure of what your doing, the 999 operators are fully trained to give you step-by-step instructions on how to attend to the situation, including giving CPR!
- Stand back and let the paramedics do their thing. This may sound like an obvious one, but you’ll be surprised how many people try to “help” when the paramedics arrive. If your doing CPR, you’ll usually find a paramedic will take over whilst another sets up their equipment (oxygen, defibrillator). Whilst setting up, that paramedic may start asking you questions about what happened, and what you’ve done so far. So just step aside, and try to remain focused on talking to them, as every bit of information helps. Obviously if only one person initially turns up, such as a first responder, they may ask you to carry on whilst they setup the equipment. This is a common situation, as it allows the NHS to get someone trained out to you very quickly to get things started before the ambulance arrives.
- Grab a sentimental item. Obviously I don’t mean go and get a pile of your most treasured belongings. But if it’s decided to take your child into hospital and your at home, whilst the paramedics are getting their kit together, go and grab your child’s favourite teddy or blanket off the bed. It should only take you a minute, and at some point your child will need the comfort. Whenever we’re going into hospital or the out of hours clinic for an unplanned visit, I always take my son’s favourite teddy with us just in case. At the time he never usually wants it, but after a few hours in an unusual place, all of a sudden that teddy isn’t leaving his side!
So if you have the opportunity, go to a class, and learn some basic first aid skills. You may feel silly at the beginning – Some of the scenarios do feel “unreal” at the time, but those silly scenarios are the building blocks to give you the skills you need to help save a life.
St John Ambulance have recently released two completely free campaigns for parents to learn basic baby first aid. The most recent of which is a free babygrow which details in a “fun” and engaging way how to deliver CPR to a baby. Such an amazing venture, and one I fully encourage everyone with a new baby to get involved with.
You can find links to the two campaigns below:
You can also watch the video from St John Ambulance and Nursery Rhymes Inc. which features the channel’s characters singing along the steps to delivering baby CPR in the style of a nursery rhyme:
If your interested in finding our more about baby first aid courses in your local area, you can try any of the following resources who usually offer courses for a small fee:
Alternatively, you could try your local children’s groups and centres such as Barnandos. Who periodically run free sessions for new parents who live locally.
Be the difference between a life lost and a life saved. Learn First Aid today. #bethedifference
Disclaimer: I wrote this post based purely on my own experience and opinions. Whilst I was an active member of St John Ambulance until 2015, at the time of writing this post I do not work for any of the listed organisations, nor am I affiliated with them in any way. All images are copyrighted to St John Ambulance, or Nursery Rhymes inc.