Save A Life

Save A Life

Our Save A Life section covers  areas relating to Cardiac Arrest and Choking – both in infants, children and adults.

Saving A Life

Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying “Next to creating a life the finest thing a man can do is save one”.

This is statement couldn’t be truer – and our website covers numerous articles and videos on exactly how to do that.

Choking Prevention in children age 1 year +

According to St John Ambulance, 80% of parents have no idea what to do if their child choked. This is a frightening statistic, especially when you consider that an average of 34 children are treated in hospital for choking on food every day.

Whilst you shouldn’t be alarmed, you should equip yourself with as much information as possible in order to reduce the chances of choking. You should make sure you’re aware of the signs of choking, which are different to the signs of gagging.

Young children can choke on anything that can fit through a loo roll. To prevent choking: keep such small objects out of reach, cut up food into very small pieces and supervise children while they’re eating, especially if they’re under five years old.

If a child shows signs of choking, stay calm and ask them to cough, as doing this they can often release whatever is stuck themselves. If this doesn’t work then follow these steps to clear a blockage.

What should I do if my child is choking?

  • Bend the child forward with one hand supporting them on their chest. With the other hand use the flat of your hand to give a firm back blow between the shoulder blades.
  • Check to see if the blockage has cleared before giving another blow.
  • If the back blows haven’t helped, get an ambulance on the way.
  • If they are still unable to breathe after five back blows, begin abdominal thrusts.
  • Stand behind the child and place one hand in a fist between their tummy button and their rib cage. Use the other hand to pull up and under in a J
    shaped motion, to dislodge the obstruction. Perform abdominal thrusts up to 5 times, checking each time to see if the obstruction has cleared.
  • Anyone who has received abdominal thrusts must be seen by a doctor.
  • If the child is still choking, call 999 (or 112) and alternate five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until emergency help arrives. If at any point the child becomes unconscious, commence CPR.
Prevent a child from choking illustration

How to give your child CPR – for children one year old and above

What should I do if my child is unconscious and not breathing?

After you have performed a primary survey, if you find that the child is unresponsive and not breathing you should ask a helper to call 999 or 112 for emergency help while you start CPR. Ask a helper to find and bring a defibrillator if available.

If you are on your own, you need to give one minute of CPR before calling on a speaker phone. Do not leave the child to make the call or to look for a defibrillator. (Please refer to the St John Ambulance Primary Survey Video).

If you find that the child is unresponsive and not breathing you should ask a helper to call 999 or 112 for emergency help

If you find that the child is unresponsive and not breathing you should ask a helper to call 999 or 112 for emergency help

  • Child CPR – gently lift the chin and tilt the head back
  • Start CPR. Place them on a firm surface and open their airway.

    To do this, place one hand on their forehead to tilt their head back and use two fingers from the other hand to gently lift the chin.

Child CPR - gently lift the chin and tilt the head back. Start CPR. Place them on a firm surface and open their airway

Child CPR – gently lift the chin and tilt the head back. Start CPR. Place them on a firm surface and open their airway

  • Give five initial rescue breaths.
  • Take the hand from the forehead and pinch the soft part of the nose closed, allowing the mouth to fall open.
  • With the head still tilted, take a breath and put your mouth around the child’s, to make a seal.
  • Blow into their mouth gently and steadily for up to one second, until the chest rises.
  • Remove your mouth and watch the chest fall.
Give five initial rescue breaths. Take the hand from the forehead and pinch the soft part of the nose closed, allowing the mouth to fall open.

Give five initial rescue breaths. Take the hand from the forehead and pinch the soft part of the nose closed, allowing the mouth to fall open.

That’s one rescue breath. Do this five times.

  • You will then need to give 30 chest compressions.
  • Kneel by the child and put one hand in the centre of the child’s chest.
  • Push down a third of the depth of the chest.
  • Release the pressure allowing the chest to come back up.
You will then need to give 30 chest compressions. Kneel by the child and put one hand in the centre of the child’s chest.

You will then need to give 30 chest compressions. Kneel by the child and put one hand in the centre of the child’s chest.

Repeat this 30 times at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. The beat of the song ‘Nellie the Elephant’ can help you keep the right rate.

  • After 30 compressions, open the airway and give two breaths.
  • Keep alternating 30 compressions with two breaths (30:2) until: (1.) emergency help arrives and takes over or (2.) the child starts showing signs of life and starts to breathe normally or (3.) a defibrillator is ready to be used.
After 30 compressions, open the airway and give two breaths.

You will then need to give 30 chest compressions. Kneel by the child and put one hand in the centre of the child’s chest.

Doing rescue breaths may increase the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus, either to the rescuer or the child. This may be mitigated by placing a face shield or pocket mask over the child’s mouth.

It is vital that you perform rescue breaths as cardiac arrest in a child is likely caused by a respiratory problem.

If the helper returns with a defibrillator, ask them to switch it on and follow the voice prompts while you continue with CPR.

  • Child CPR – if the child becomes responsive and starts to breathe normally, put them in the recovery position
  • If the child shows signs of becoming responsive such as coughing, opening eyes, speaking, and starts to breathe normally, put them in the recovery position. Monitor their level of response and prepare to give CPR again if necessary.
  • If you have used a defibrillator, leave it attached.
Child CPR - if the child becomes responsive and starts to breathe normally, put them in the recovery position

Child CPR – if the child becomes responsive and starts to breathe normally, put them in the recovery position.

“Save A Life” Resources that may help

Below are a list of resources that may help you with Life Saving skills and knowledge.