“Without a doubt, it was Kate’s choking video and rhyme which gave me the confidence to step in so quickly at school.”
These are the words of Claire Emmett, Early Years teacher at Chichester Free School. Claire took quick action, when one of her reception pupils started choking whilst eating lunch. Claire had recently watched a live Mini First Aid video in which our Director, Kate Ball talked about how to recognise when a child is choking and exactly what to do.
Claire describes in her own words what happened and why she thinks every member of teaching and dining staff should watch Kate’s video.
“One of my friends had organised for Kate to do a live video about choking prevention so I tuned in. Without a doubt, it was this video which gave me the confidence to step in so quickly at school. I’ve done first aid training, but watching Kate’s video helped me quickly recognise that Leo (not his real name) was choking. In fact, I can still remember the rhyme Kate teaches:
‘Loud and red, let them go ahead. Silent and blue they need help from you.’
That day, we had sixty children sitting down for their weekly roast lunch which is no mean feat! Beef was on the menu which children often find a little tricky to cut and chew. As I was walking up and down, I noticed Leo was coughing and liquid was coming out of his mouth. He then went quiet which I knew was a warning sign. I shouted to a colleague to come and help as we needed to get Leo out of the bench where he was sitting. By then, Leo’s lips had started to go blue and I was sure he was choking.
We quickly got Leo out of his bench so we could issue back slaps. It wasn’t easy as he had gone completely rigid. Eventually, the food flew out but Leo was still quiet. To check if he was in shock or still choking, I asked him:
“Leo. What is my name?”
Thankfully, he answered “Miss Emmett” straightaway. Leo loves his roast dinner so asked if he could start eating again. We did get him a new dinner though!
I think anyone working with children should watch Kate’s video. It takes 5 minutes of your time, but you could save a child’s life. Because I remembered the rhyme and knew the difference between gagging and choking, I was confident about stepping in. Dining halls are busy, noisy places so we need to know when a child is choking and act fast. Ultimately, it’s about saving a child’s life.” You can watch Kate's video here
So how do you deal with a choking baby or child?
It’s vital that all parents and carers know how to deal with a baby or child who is choking.
Choking Baby (aged 0-1)
· 5 back slaps.
· Up to 5 chest thrusts (jabbing motion). Check if anything comes out. If nothing has come out, call 999.
· Cycles of 5 back slaps & 5 chest thrusts.
Choking child (aged 1 – puberty)
· Encourage child to cough.
· 5 back slaps between shoulder blades. Check if anything comes out & check mouth.
· Up to 5 abdominal thrusts. Clenched fist between tummy and breastbone, with other hand over the top. In & upwards motion. Check if anything comes out. If nothing has come out, call 999.
· Cycles of 5 back slaps & 5 abdominal thrusts.
You must always refer to hospital any child or baby who has been choking and where abdominal manoeuvres have been used.
Whilst you can read all about choking, there is no preparation like seeing a demonstration in person. This week, we heard from Mini First Aid customer Victoria Hepburn who used the skills she'd learnt in class to help her 11 month old when she started choking:
"It was dinner time and we had our nieces over to stay. My partner had given my 11 month old daughter some apple to eat to keep her going until dinner was ready. This wasn't unusual and apple is something she loves to chew on, probably to help with her teething. Luckily we have an open kitchen/diner so as I was looking in the freezer my partner came over to ask me a question. You're talking seconds away from the girls but that can be all it takes. Thankfully he heard our daughter making light noises and could see she was struggling. He started hitting her back while she was sitting on the ground bent over. It wasn't working. I managed to remain calm but assertive, so went over and picked her up. I used the thrusting motion I'd learnt on her back with her on my knee, slightly aiming her head down towards the ground until the apple was removed. It then felt like the longest time to see if she was breathing, she was very quiet and in shock. At the time I wasn't worried about her back as I'd rather the piece of apple be dislodged. I felt physically sick and my partner and I were quite shaky. Luckily she drank and ate afterwards so she wasn't put off.
Genuinely if it weren't for the class I attended, I would've flapped at not knowing what to do quickly enough. Thank you for giving me the tools to help my daughter."
It’s amazing how a little first aid knowledge can go such a long way, isn’t it? If you’ve been affected by Claire and Victoria's stories and would like to learn life-saving skills, book our 2 hour baby and child class today, where you will learn about choking, burns, febrile seizures and meningitis.
The Mini First Aid Team x