Anyone who has had children will have stories to tell about scrapes they have got into. The summer before last, my son Joe had a nasty fall. He had been playing in the garden, ran in without looking and cut his eyebrow quite deeply on the corner of a chair. He was in some pain but his screams shook the panic out of me as I had to calculate how to comfort him, how to get to A&E, where to take his sister and what to do about the injury.
I am a mum, so I got on with it. I even took photos. Even as my adrenaline kicked me into auto-pilot TLC I wished that I knew more about what to do. Some years beforehand I vaguely remembered having completed a couple of basic first aid courses, but this was real and immediate, the blood was actually dark and runny and horrifying; in the event my mummy-brain just gave up so I put on a brave face, ticked the boxes the best I could and tried not to blame myself too much.
In due course at A&E Joe was seen by some wonderful nurses and glued back together; today his scar has silvered and hardly shows. But I see it whenever he snuggles in close. For me it’s a reminder of when I didn’t know what to do to help my child.
Right now of course he’s fine and I’m so glad he’s over his little adventure safely.
I’m also pleased that I have a much better knowledge of first aid. It took me a while, but this week I got around to it, by attending a Mini First Aid course run by Ruth Wilson. Ruth is a friend of mine, so I set aside my fears and excuses and agreed to come along in order to learn more and to blog about what she does. Ruth has lots of experience in nursing, health visiting (the ‘good sort’) and child-minding, as well as having five children. She is calm and encouraging, conveying lots of useful and practical information in a thoughtful and interesting way, with plenty of humour in the mix.
You need humour if you’re going to learn about injuries. I don’t think I’d ever before been taught:
“don’t stand on the baby!”
…but then I don’t think Ruth had ever had to teach that before either. I do have a knack of bringing up rather ridiculous ideas and questions. It helps me remember.
(For the record, it is acceptable to stem blood flow from an open artery in order to save a limb by applying your full weight to a pressure point. I can picture a small medic standing on a big patient for this purpose. Not so good, however, for adults treating babies.)
Some first aid may seem obvious of course. But what about the correct equipment for a home first aid kit, or where you should really keep it? I have not got any hypoallergenic plasters for visitors; that was a take home action point for me. And I took my car first aid kit out years ago and haven’t replaced it. Oops. I do have an app on my phone (Red Cross) since Joe fell, except I haven’t really studied how it works.
I guess most of us would think we have a basic knowledge of first aid. I can summon up the recovery position. Also, I do know what to do for a nose bleed and where I keep disinfectant (certainly) and safety pins (probably). But, for all the half-remembered ideas in my head about what to do in the event of an emergency and why I might even need safety pins, I have to admit I was lacking crucial knowledge and skills. How many of us are up to speed on what to do in the event of choking, burns, broken bones or shock? Once I’d stopped and thought about it I realised there’s not much of an excuse, really. Courses are widely available now and Ruth’s 2 hour mini first aid course is only £20, which is very reasonable. There are others, but the format of this one, which included her baby and child props for CPR and other procedures was very well thought through and friendly, with nine of us meeting in a church creche room.
Many, or perhaps most of my friends raise children or work with children. Even others, including teenagers and grandparents babysit. Adults runs clubs, groups and events for children and at these times most of us probably hope that someone else is the qualified first aider. Like me, you may not enjoy dealing with blood. But we also host other people’s children in our homes, mind our nephews and nieces, and are the responsible adults for those who live in our homes for a huge amount of their time. The times when they climb a bit too far, times when they spill hot drinks, times when they run into walls or trip and bang their heads.
The others in the group seemed very keen to take lots of notes, but I wanted to remember everything I could. There was a lot to take in, and the course notes to take away did help, as well as being able to ask all sorts of sensible (and less sensible) questions. I’m now far more confident about when I would take a child to a doctor or to A&E and what order to do things in, in an emergency. I hope I never have to use CPR, but now I feel like I would be able to give it my best shot.
And God willing, I don’t have to rush Joe to hospital again with another nasty cut. But if I did, this time I’d know about applying pressure to it.
Rather than telling you all the other things I learned and revised, I encourage you to make time to do a first aid course yourself if you haven’t done one recently. Mini First Aid have courses around the UK, if you find yourself looking after little ones.
And, whatever you do, please don’t stand on the baby.