How to Save a Life Using Just Your Hands

At 8am on Tuesday morning, junior hospital doctors were due to take industrial action. Just for one day, they’d only treat emergencies. 

FreeImages.com/Carlos Paes

That’s now off, pending further talks. But does the average Joe know what an emergency is? I can’t help speculating. My experience of working in A & E suggests otherwise. Yes, there are heart attacks, car crashes, and fractured femurs galore.

Alas, there’s also no shortage of folks who pitch up for a second opinion on a runny nose, or who demand to know, at 4am, why they’ve had hiccups for two years.

Tragically, the reverse is also true: “I thought she was just sleeping.”

FreeImages.com/Johan Graterol POSED BY MODEL

If it’s that hard for the man in the street to recognize an emergency for what it is, it’s even more challenging to deal with it.

Forgive me for going all serious today, but research for St John Ambulance shows that almost four fifths of parents (79%) wouldn’t know what to do if their baby was choking to death. That’s despite it being a major fear for 58% of parents. In fact no less than 40% have witnessed choking. 

So kudos to those who’ve learned what to do, like the two people who saved a tot’s life in Hampstead a few weeks ago.

As you can imagine, the toddler’s mother is incredibly grateful to the passers-by who leapt in and did CPR. They’re unusual, because most people, as the research showed, wouldn’t have a clue.

We hear a lot about defibrillators in public places. Of course they’re a great idea. But while defibrillators help save adult lives, they’re not that useful for a baby or child. That’s because most little ones have breathing emergencies, not cardiac ones.

The good news is that their lives can be saved with nothing more than your hands, once you know how.

FreeImages.com/Helmut Gevert

So I wonder why basic life support isn’t taught more in schools.  And why parents and carers don’t often bother to learn how to save their own child’s life.

About five years ago, I was involved in Tesco’s BabySafe campaign. There were free sessions around the country designed to teach parents, carers, and others the basics of dealing with common but serious emergencies like choking and burns. People left with basic skills and the confidence to use them.

You can learn to save a baby or child’s life from the British Red Cross or St John Ambulance

These organizations have online information too, but it’s so much better to do a hands-on course if you can.

FreeImages.com/Denise Docherty

 

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The Top 5 Things I Learned this Week

You’re never too old, right? This week I found myself on a steep part of the learning curve, and began to wish I had crampons to stop me falling off. Here’s what I learned.

1 It’s entirely possible to tell the difference between hairspray and other kinds of spray, but – here’s the tricky bit – I have to remember to look first.

Scholl odour control

Still, I had the reassurance of knowing that my hair wouldn’t smell like mouldy trainers.

2 ‘Loading’ does not have a strict definition set out in legislation. If you think stopping to pick an order from a shop constitutes loading, then be prepared to argue your case. The general interpretation is that loading/unloading should be in the nature of a collection/delivery.  It does not include parking in the loading bay while shopping or, if you’re feeling peckish, visiting McDonalds.

stopped in a loading bay

If you too are just getting to grips with that little lesson, you may like to check out Ticket fighter. 

3 There is only one correct way to offer a horse a lump of sugar. FYI it is not by holding the sugar cube in your fingers. 

horses in the field

If the first one doesn’t bite your fingers off, the second one probably will. 

4 Although drinking alcohol on London’s underground system has been forbidden since 1st June 2008, it doesn’t mean the guy swilling Special Brew on the Jubilee Line will thank you for pointing that out to him, especially if he has a fuck-off haircut and a nasty glint in his one good eye.  No, not even when you explain you’re only trying to spare him a hefty fine.

Special Brew

On the other hand, you may qualify for a discounted coffee at London Bridge station (wonder if there’s a sliding scale of discounts depending on the location of the injury?).   

Been to Guys Hospital

5 Letting a child with a cold kiss you is a really bad idea. I’d show you the end result, but it proved far too gruesome for a photo.  

You know what really worries me? The week isn’t over yet.