First aid: the core principles
Becoming a parent for the first time simultaneously elicits so many different emotions. Pride, unbridled joy and optimism are feelings which new parents frequently cite, and it’s easy to understand and celebrate such positive sentiments.
But at the same time, new parents often state that they also become preoccupied with anxiety and fear. For the first time in their lives, they are entirely responsible for the wellbeing of a small and vulnerable person. While having a basic understanding of first aid does not guarantee that accidents won’t happen, it will give you the confidence to act in an emergency instead of merely panicking.
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and all parents should go on at least one CPR course in their lifetime. CPR is used when someone is found to be unresponsive and not breathing, or they are found unresponsive and breathing abnormally. The aim is to preserve brain function and delay tissue death in the patient until professional medical help arrives. CPR is done through a combination of chest compressions, to restore a partial flow of oxygenated blood to the heart and brain, and artificial ventilation, where the person providing the CPR will exhale air into the patient’s nose or mouth or use a device that manually pushes air into the patient’s lungs.
CPR is modified for babies and small children. If you discover that your child or infant is unresponsive and not breathing, you should immediately call the emergency services and begin CPR.
- Assess the baby’s response – if there is no response to your voice or touch, the baby is unconscious.
- Clear and open the airway – turn the baby into the recovery position on the side and sweep one finger through the front of the mouth to remove any solid or loose matter.
- Check for breathing – look for movement of the chest and listen for escaping air from the baby’s mouth or nose.
- If the baby is NOT breathing normally – find the middle of the chest and identify the notch where the ribs meet in the centre. Mark this notch with your index finger and place two fingers just above it.
- Compress the sternum – keep your fingertips on the chest to exert downward pressure through the sternum without any pressure on the rib cage, maintain these compressions at the rate of approximately 100-120 per minute until 30 compressions.
- Rescue Breathing – take a small breath in and seal the baby’s mouth and nose with your mouth. Puff gently into the baby’s mouth until the chest rises. Remove your mouth from the baby’s face and turn your head sideways to listen to the escape of air and watch the chest empty. When the chest is empty, repeat these steps one more time to give a total of two puffs, allowing about one second for each one.
- Resuscitation should continue until:
- the baby recovers
- qualified help arrives and takes over care of the baby
- an authorised person pronounces that life is extinct
- the first aider is unable to continue, usually due to exhaustion
Get the right gear
Dads love nothing more than getting their hands on new gear. Whether it’s fishing tackle or gadgets for the car, there’s something inherently fun about purchasing expert equipment. Take this preparedness and desire to be up-to-date and organised and apply it to your own home and children by getting family First Aid kits. It’s a good idea to have one smaller, more compact kit to keep in the car, and a larger, extensive kit that you can store at home. The best retailers will provide a Family First Aid bundle type offer, that usually consists of two car kits and a large house kit. This way, you’ll always have a supply of essentials like bandages, swabs and saline close to hand for cuts, bites and other common accidents.
Learn how to deal with choking
While you can’t get a child to eat a piece of broccoli, just watch how quick they are to put Lego or rocks (or basically any foreign object!) into their mouth. Learning how to respond to your child or baby choking is an invaluable piece of First Aid knowledge.
If the choking child is conscious, bend them well forward and give five firm (but not harmful) blows with the heel of your hand in between their shoulder blades. Check to see if the object has become dislodged after each blow. If unsuccessful, give five chest thrusts by placing your hand on the middle of their back for support, and the heel of your other hand on the lower part of their breastbone. Check to see if the object has become dislodged with each thrust. For a conscious choking baby, place them on your lap or forearm with their head lower than their body and administer back blows with less force than you would use on a child.
Survival Emergency Solutions is one of Australia’s leading providers of first aid products for the home, workplace, vehicle and outdoors. Their Emergency First Aid Handbook is the only book to win the Australian Design Award and has sold over two million copies.