A true life story, shared by AFA adoptive parent, Emily.

Booking a first aid course is, in my experience, something you put on your ‘To Do’ list but don’t generally get around to actually doing.

It was something my husband and I discussed during our assessment to become approved adopters. It came up again when we were in the matching process and we even asked friends who had children if they had ever done an infant or child specific first aid course. There was a reoccurring theme to the responses we got which was “no, but I always planned to!” Like our friends we planned to but didn’t get around to actually booking ourselves onto a course.

We were incredibly lucky and blessed to be matched with a sibling group of 3 young children and suddenly found ourselves immersed in baby lead weaning. We were reassured by experienced friends and our health visitor that a certain amount of gagging was perfectly normal although it had our hearts skipping a beat each time it

A couple of months into our placement we were feeling confident in weaning and were happily introducing our children to a variety of new foods. One evening we were giving them their dinner and a gag turned into choking. I grabbed our 10 month old out of his high chair, flipped him over so he was face down and started to smack him on the back. I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing and it wasn’t working, so out of desperation I put my finger in his mouth and pulled out the piece of food he was choking on.

Our 10 month old very quickly recovered and continued to stuff food into his mouth like nothing had happened while I sat in shock an tried not to have a complete melt down in front of our children.

I booked myself straight onto a child and infant first aid course run by St Johns Ambulance. Having done the course I honestly hoped I’d never have to use my newly acquired knowledge. Sadly around a month later I was put to the test. Again we were all sat down to dinner and tucking into the children’s favourite, spaghetti bolognese.

Our now 12 month old started to choke on a small piece of carrot. I again found myself smacking our son on the back to try and dislodge the piece of food, only this time I knew how and where to do it effectively.

Unfortunately the back slaps didn’t work and our son turned blue. While my husband phoned for an ambulance and our other two children watched on, I laid our precious 12 month old son on the floor and gave him a rescue breath, a technique I had learned on the first aid course. Amazingly it worked, the piece of carrot was dislodged and he took a
breath and screamed. I held him to me in the recovery position while we waited for the ambulance to arrive and check him over.

I’m relieved to say he fully recovered from the incident but the ambulance took 11 minutes to arrive which would have been too late had I not known what to do. I have since encouraged everyone I know to do one of these courses, I would much rather have the knowledge and never need it than be in a situation where I need it and don’t know what to do.