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It is hard to even imagine how complicated it is to give first aid to your own child .... extreme stress, difficulty controlling trembling hands and empty mind ... Are there any methods that allow you to control the situation when our child is in a life-threatening situation?
Grzegorz Nowak: Some people recommend in these situations different methods to control emotions, stress, e.g. by calming one's breathing. Let's face it - unfortunately, if a parent doesn't have basic skills that can be learned very quickly, they will be of no avail. The only way to control such situations is to become convinced of your own knowledge and above all skills. And this can only be done by participating in first aid training, preferably refreshed regularly.
How often should you find time for this type of reminder?
G.N: Studies have shown that cardiopulmonary resuscitation skills disappear as soon as 3-6 months after training.
For parents who find it difficult to find time to repeat training so often, I suggest repeating the first aid training for children after approx. 1 year, maximum after 2 years.
Are there situations where it's better to wait than to act too fast? What definitely shouldn't a parent do on their own?
G.N: If we are talking about the most critical situations, such as sudden cardiac arrest or complete obstruction of the child's respiratory tract during choking, then there is nothing to wait for! Only immediate and decisive action has the chance to bring the child back to life and health. With the passage of each subsequent minute in these events, the chances of vital functions return drastically decrease, hence the need to start the rescue operation immediately.
It is difficult to list everything that parents should not do on their own. When teaching first aid, I tell trainees about proper, consistent with current medical knowledge, proceedings to consolidate only good habits, and not even remind about undesirable activities.
Certainly speaking of first aid, we mean non-instrumental operation. Taking even the first from the edge of the proceedings presented in movies or television, do not pull a foreign body when choking with tweezers or blow it out of the baby by holding the legs, stick the pen in the neck at the swelling of the respiratory tract, put on burn wounds of spirit, fat or paste to the teeth.
What is the risk of removing a foreign body by holding the child by the feet? More than one parent could do this intuitively at the time of choking and lack of knowledge on how to help ...
G.N: Not only intuitively, because in the old days the method was widely used, and unfortunately many such "rescue operations" are passed down from generation to generation.
Returning to the question, it is not recommended to remove the foreign body from the child's respiratory tract by shaking him out of the child (especially for infants). It may damage the baby's hip joints, the spine (remember that the baby's head is very heavy) and even let the baby go out of hand and cause injury.
What to do in case of choking?
G.N: Choking behavior varies depending on the child's current condition. If the child is clearly defending himself - i.e. conscious and coughing, he / she should be encouraged to continue coughing and not take additional action.
At the moment when the child's cough weakens - it becomes clearly ineffective, or disappears completely, you should perform up to 5 beats with your wrist in the inter-scapular area of the child. If these did not help, it is necessary to perform up to 5 compressions: in infants of the chest, and in older children epigastric compressions. Give these gloves alternately until the child recovers airway or becomes unconscious.
If a choking child loses consciousness, cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be started immediately. Of course, remember to notify the emergency medical team of the need to come by calling 999 or 112.
What is the procedure to be followed when a young child falls and loses consciousness?
G.N: Here, the matter is similar to adults. Assuming loss of consciousness not related to injury, the injured child should be placed in a safe position - on the side, ensuring airway (by tilting the head back).
What is the difference between providing first aid to a child and saving an adult's life?
G.N: In general, the currently recommended treatment patterns do not differ significantly depending on the age of the victim. They are prepared in such a way that a person without pediatric training can e.g. perform resuscitation in both an adult and a child. Therefore, a parent who has not undergone first aid training in children can perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the same ratio of chest compressions to rescue breaths as in adults - i.e. 30 to 2.
It is worth remembering in this topic that a child is not a miniaturized version of an adult. Therefore, it is necessary, for example, to compress the chest with less force than in adults (in infants with two fingers, in older children with one hand) and to reduce the amount of air pumped into the lungs.
Recently, there has been information in the media to instead of breathing rescue to do heart massage alone, focusing on pressure. Is it true? Should I help my child in the same way?
G.N: The limitation of resuscitation proposed in the media to heart massage itself is based on British recommendations (the same action is recommended to Americans). However, current recommendations of the European Resuscitation Council still speak about conducting CPR combining chest compressions and rescue breaths. They emphasize, however, that in the case of concerns related to rescue breathing, first aid providers can only compress their chest:
"... persons providing assistance should be encouraged to conduct CPR with exclusive chest compressions in situations when they cannot or do not want to take rescue breaths or when they perform resuscitation instructed by phone by the ambulance dispatcher."
It is worth emphasizing, however, that unlike adults, in whom the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest is a "heart" issue, in children the problem causing the cessation of vital functions is associated with the respiratory system. Therefore, full resuscitation, including rescue breaths, is more important for children.
Where can a parent learn first aid? Not only in theory but also in practice?
G.N: First aid training for children is usually organized by private companies and some organizations in every major Polish city. I think that the easiest way to find an organizer will be to use the internet search engine - it's hard for me to recommend a specific contractor myself. As for Kraków, here I can invite readers - both current and future parents - for first aid training for children conducted by me at Stay & Play.
What should every parent have in their home medicine cabinet?
G.N: Looking from the angle of safety and health of the child, it is worth that the first-aid kit was not only "home". It is worth having a first aid kit, even small, when playing in the park, walking and other out of the house. Unfortunately, children, curious about the world around them, like to cause problems for themselves and their parents in the least expected moments.
So what should you pack into a pediatric first aid kit? First of all, various types of dressings, from plasters used for minor injuries, starting with small sterile swabs and large swabs, to stop major bleeding, to agents supporting compress on wounds, i.e. knitted bandages, elastic bandages.
It may be particularly useful to equip a children's first aid kit with hydrogel dressings of various sizes. They are used directly on burn wounds (also on others, e.g. abrasions) - they protect the wound against infection, and above all have a cooling and analgesic effect (proven in rescue practice - also on children).
As the first aid kit can also be used to help strangers, it is worth equipping it with personal protective equipment: a few pairs of latex or nitrile gloves, a mask for artificial respiration.
And finally, I would like to dispel the doubts of our readers: can the woman giving birth call an ambulance and if in such a situation a partner can go in an ambulance with a woman? Is it possible to bring a bag with things for mom and baby to the ambulance?
G.N: A woman giving birth can of course call a medical emergency team. Let us, however, call him when the delivery has really begun and it progresses suddenly, not when the planned date has arrived. The patient is usually taken to the ambulance by the rescuers, while taking the bag with the future mother is not a problem.
Let's remember one more thing. Most often, the emergency medical team takes the patient to the nearest hospital - it is not always the same in which the woman has the date of delivery.
Grzegorz Nowak - paramedic, employee of emergency medical teams.
First aid trainer at Stay & Play. Author of the popular blog on emergency medical services Ratownicz.net.