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First aid hero gets a sure start as a life-saver

5 November 2009

Choking child treatmentSteve Gorton

A young parent who reluctantly attended a first aid course as part of the Sure Start programme was transformed suddenly into a convert – after his new skills helped save his child’s life.

The British Red Cross was asked by the government’s Sure Start programme to deliver a basic first aid course – spread over three weeks – to a group of disadvantaged new parents in Northampton. The parents had been identified as needing extra support due to low literacy skills, difficulties in relating to others and child care issues.

Community first aid trainer Veronica Davis commenced with the course in October. She said: “There were nine people in the group, including a man in his early twenties who turned up with his girlfriend. They were the parents of a two-year-old boy.”

‘I saved his life’

“The young mother was very keen from the outset but the father didn’t show much interest at all – he was late for the first two sessions, quite reluctant to answer questions and didn’t really want to get involved. His body language very much said: I want to be somewhere else.”

But by the third week, everything had changed. Veronica recalled: “When I arrived, he was already sitting there ready and waiting. He immediately said: ‘I have to tell you, my son choked on a sweet wrapper and I saved his life.’”

It turns out the young boy had swallowed part of a sweet wrapper and started choking on it – but luckily the Red Cross training session had covered choking injuries just the week before.

Training kicked in

Veronica said: “Apparently, his girlfriend went to pieces when it happened and panicked, but he was surprised at how calm and collected he was. All the training came back to him – he just put his little boy over his knee then gave him a series of sharp blows on the back to dislodge the sweet wrapper. He was so proud that he’d saved his son’s life, using precisely those first aid skills he didn’t think he needed.”

The life-saving incident proved to have had a profound effect on the young father. Veronica remembered: “That third lesson was a totally different story. The young man was first in the queue every time I needed a volunteer. And for me, the whole incident has made me realise afresh just how worthwhile it is to teach first aid.”

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