Learning first aid with The Last Leg's Alex Brooker

As a co-host on Channel 4’s The Last Leg, Alex Brooker has no fear of live TV. But he felt less confident about being able to help his six-month-old daughter in a first aid emergency. 

Last updated 3 March 2021

“Our baby’s weaning now and I’m a massive worrier. Every little thing I worry about,” he said.

To ease those concerns, Alex - TV presenter, comedian and parent - took part in a British Red Cross group first aid course so that he could learn with his friends and family. And he’s really pleased he did.

Last year the Red Cross delivered face-to-face first aid learning to over 270,000 people. Over four million people used our free online resources and mobile app to learn lifesaving skills.

We want to help everyone to learn: from school children and teachers to the homeless and, of course, new parents like Alex.

The group course

During this group course, Alex was taken through some key baby and child first aid skills such as burns and spotting the signs for meningitis.

“I thought the session was amazing,” Alex said.

“I definitely feel a lot more confident for learning all of these skills. I mean, you know, our baby is six months old now and ideally I would have learnt them all before.”

What Alex learnt

First aid for a baby who is choking:

“I actually realised that when a baby is choking it’s because their airway is blocked, so they’re not making noise,” Alex said.

“So it’s when she [my daughter] is silent, I need to be worrying more.”

If your baby is choking:

  1. Give up to five back blows. Hold the baby face down along your thigh with their head lower than their bottom. Hit them firmly on their back between the shoulder blades up to five times. If back blows do not dislodge the object, move on to step two.
  2. Give up to five chest thrusts. Turn the baby over so they are facing upwards and place two fingers in the middle of their chest just below the nipples. Push sharply downwards up to five times.
  3. Call 999 if the object does not dislodge and continue with cycles of back blows and chest thrusts until help arrives or the blockage clears.

The first aid skill for helping a child who is choking is different. Learn the skill for both babies and children.

First aid for meningitis:

We also showed Alex how to spot the signs for meningitis.

“Meningitis is something that in my line of work, working with Paralympians, a lot of them lost limbs and things like that to meningitis – so it was something that was kind of really in the forefront of my mind,” he said.

How to spot it:

  1. The baby or child may have flu-like symptoms, a headache and a high temperature. They may also complain of a stiff neck and be sensitive to light. At a later stage, a rash may form that does not disappear when a glass is pressed against it.
  2. If you observe these symptoms, call 999.
  3. Give them constant reassurance while waiting for the ambulance.

New research from the Red Cross shows that three out of four parents wouldn’t be able to save their baby from choking. Around 65 per cent wished they had learnt some first aid skills before having a baby.

The good news is that first aid is an empowering life skill that is easy to learn. Our courses provide a fun environment in which we help equip people with the confidence and the skills to act in an emergency, and potentially save a life.

Alex would agree.

“I think it’s massively important for parents to learn first aid because you hope that these situations will never arise but it’s to have that confidence in that situation,” he said.

“These are skills that could prove vital before the emergency services come to help.”