Choking – a life saved

In my role as an Intensive Care Paramedic I have been to numerous choking incidents, both adult and paediatric. I’ve used medical tongs, known as magill forceps, to remove half chewed steak from an elderly patient’s throat and I’ve pulled slippery grapes out of an unconscious child’s airway. Choking is by far the most common topic that people ask me about.

Today I am going to tell you a success story from one of Rescueblue’s clients, Leanne and her baby boy Ash. Leanne used the first aid skills that she learnt in one of our workshops to save her baby’s life. This is a truly remarkable story that makes me so proud of my team, our business and the service that we offer to our community. Thank you Leanne for allowing us to share this with the community.

The Rescueblue trainer for Leanna’s course was Jacinta, an Intensive Care Paramedic and all around legend. Thank you Jacinta, you’re worth your weight in gold!

From Leanna:

Morning Rescueblue, I want to share with you an incident that happened last night. We had a very real choking scare with Ash. It happened at dinner and LUCKILY, I had done the Little Aid workshop and knew exactly what I had to do and how to do it correctly. Ash started to choke at dinner! I managed to dislodge the piece of food from my son’s throat using the back blows that you taught me. Why am I telling you this? Because if I had not done the  course, things could have turned out very different. Last night could have gone another way, so from the bottom of my heart thank you for teaching me what I needed to do.

 Ps: Ash is totally fine and finished his dinner like nothing had happened. Mum and dad had a very stiff drink.”

Tips to avoid choking

  • Don’t eat on the run – I remember the first choking incident that I went to roughly 11 years ago. A little girl was playing tip with her sister and eating a sandwich at the same time. Her sister tipped her, pushing her in the back causing her to fall over. At the same time she inhaled and huge chunk of sandwich which lodged in her airway. Make it a habit for your child to sit down when they eat.
  • Small pieces not big chunks – This might seem obvious, but needs to be mentioned. A baby’s airway is extremely narrow, around the diameter of a drinking straw. Everyday foods such as cherries, blueberries and grapes are the perfect size to lodge in a child’s airway. Make sure that you cut or squash anything that is spherical in nature. We recommend cutting into quarters “cut it, then cut it again”. If you don’t have access to a knife, squash it with your fingers.
  • Observe – It is really important that you have an “eyes on approach” when your child is learning to swallow. A complete airway obstruction can be silent, without any coughing and minimal gagging. So keep a watchful eye and make sure they are never left unattended.
  • Know what to do – This is by far the most important piece of advice. It is exceptionally important that you know what to do if things take a turn for the worse. Of course, we will always recommend that you do a Rescueblue Little Aid Workshop, but if you decide to go with another provider, make sure that they still practice what they preach. If they claim to be paramedics, nurses or doctors, make sure they still work in their field full-time and teach on the side. First aid guidelines are always changing, so make sure that your teacher is current.
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