Last week on our social media platforms we shared the story of MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton who recently resuscitated his 4-year-old daughter, Darcy, using first aid he half-remembered from a Scuba diving first aid course he attended some 25 years ago.
Darcy had swallowed a penny and then stopped breathing. Alex somehow recalled what he’d learned in that first aid course and was able to administer slaps to his daughter’s back which dislodged the coin. Later she needed an operation to remove the coin but, thankfully, is now fully recovered.
Alex says that the two things that stood out most to him when reflecting on the incident afterwards are “firstly, just how common choking in infants can be and secondly, how few people have either the training or the confidence to administer first aid.”
He goes on to say, “so get informed, I hope you’ll never need it, but if crisis hits, you’ll be glad you did.”
We would echo Alex’s sentiments that receiving first aid training is the best option for everyone.
If the airway is only partially blocked, the person should be able to talk, cry, cough or breathe, so they should be able to clear the object without intervention.
But try to encourage the person to keep coughing to try to clear the blockage and ask them to try to spit out the item if they can.
If coughing doesn't work, start to administer blows to the back, using a flat hand, between the shoulder blades. Watch our choking video tips that were part of our ‘First Aid for Christmas’ series here:
“Stand behind them and slightly to one side. Support their chest with a hand. Lean them forward so the object blocking their airway will come out of their mouth, rather than moving further down.
Give up to 5 sharp blows between their shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. The heel is between the palm of your hand and your wrist.
Check if the blockage has cleared.
If not, give up to 5 abdominal thrusts.
Don't give abdominal thrusts to babies under 1 year old or pregnant women.
To carry out an abdominal thrust:
Stand behind the person who's choking.
Place your arms around their waist and bend them forward.
Clench 1 fist and place it right above their belly button.
Put the other hand on top of your fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards.
Repeat this movement up to 5 times.
If the person's airway is still blocked after trying back blows and abdominal thrusts, get help immediately:
Call 999 and ask for an ambulance. Tell the 999 operator the person is choking.
Continue with the cycles of 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts until help arrives.”
You can read our reasons why you should learn first aid here.
Please note that First Response (First Aid) Ltd offers first aid tips for guidance only and should not be taken as medical advice. First Response (First Aid) Ltd is not accountable or responsible for any diagnosis made or actions taken based on our guidance and advice.
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