accessibility & help

Samantha's story: I saved my choking son

7 May 2010

First aid hero Samantha Tongue and her sonWhen Samantha Tongue (37) attended a community-based first aid course designed to help people living in isolated communities, little did she know it would lead to her saving her son’s life.

The mother-of-three, from Tywyn in North Wales, was so inspired by the course that she’s now a Red Cross event first aid volunteer. But it was a recent choking emergency at home that really put her skills to the test.

Sam was at home with son Brandon and husband Alex when she heard an almighty scream. She recalled: “I found Alex smacking Brandon on the back, but nothing was happening and he was turning blue. I took control, told Alex to phone an ambulance and started giving Brandon back blows and chest thrusts.”

Quick reaction

Finally, Sam heard Brandon cough up the sweet and was flooded with relief as he took his first clear breath. She added: “He was in a real state – crying with shock – and although I was calm at the time I was in a bit of a tizz afterwards thinking about what could have happened. Our community is quite isolated and there’s no way the ambulance would have got here in time.”

The first aider had also been there to help earlier in the year when Alex suffered a heart attack. Quick-thinking Sam immediately recognised that her husband’s chest pain symptoms were more serious than heartburn, so called an ambulance, gave Alex some aspirin and managed to keep him calm.

Skilled and confident

Alex was rushed to hospital for a life-saving operation to insert a stent in his right main artery for a previously undiagnosed hereditary heart condition. Sam later said: “I knew exactly what was happening because of my Red Cross training.”

She added: “I’m so glad I’ve got the training – it makes you more confident. And I know, from what I’ve done for my own family, that if something happened I’d know what to do and have the confidence to step in and help.”

Jenny Evans, community-based first aid co-ordinator, said: “If Sam hadn’t known what to do, the outcome for Brandon would have been very different. This shows just how important it is for people in isolated communities to be prepared for emergencies that can happen at any time.”

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