23 Oct 2012
Survival of the first aiders
When we’re faced with a crisis, the 10-80-10 theory comes into effect – 10% of people completely freak out (bad), 10% take charge (good) and the remaining 80% tend to freeze, feel stunned or revert to instinctive behaviour. So, most of us then. The research tended to focus on major life-threatening situations, like plane crashes, but it’s probably not far off what would happen in any scary situation.
For example, what would you do if your baby started choking? I can feel the chills already. Worse, what if I were abroad and Minnie was unconscious and not breathing? It’s tempting not to think about it at all. Except that the only way to hope to move from the 80% of frozen rabbits to the 10% of take-charge survivors might be to prepare.
Which took two hours… on a baby and child first aid course run by the Red Cross. The charity runs regular five-hour courses around the country, from around £37.50 for five hours, or can set up a special private session (I was quoted £350 plus VAT for 6-15 people). The only drawback is that you can’t have children in the course – understandable, but tricky in terms of childcare.
Luckily, several of the local children’s centres in my part of London were holding shorter versions, covering some of the most vital aspects, while they looked after the babies in the creche. (As an aside, I was so flustered trying to dress and feed Minnie and get us both there in time, that I left her quite happily in the creche without tears on either side).
Focused on three main scenarios – choking, unconscious and breathing, unconscious and not breathing – the trainer showed us the various techniques and how they varied on babies and older children, along with a chance to practise the recovery position and CPR on a dummy or doll, plus general advice including a reminder of the emergency number of 112 in Europe.
The Red Cross also produces a free app to download, with additional tips, as well as suggestions on what to have in your first aid kit – all useful given that 96% of parents think they should have basic first aid but two thirds don’t feel confident.
I’m not saying I’d be the soul of calm if my daughter was at risk (frantic madwoman? More likely…) but at least now I’ve got some knowledge for those first few vital minutes until I could get help. And that has to be worth two hours of anyone’s time.
:: The British Red Cross is launching its First Aid Challenge campaign at the Earls Court Baby Show on October 26.