Many parents are fortunately never put into a position where they have to rescue their child however, every parent should know what to do in an emergency. This article is by no means a substitute for a Cardiopulmonary resuscitation course (CPR) but it will give you some idea of how to help your child before medical help arrives.
Before you start CPR you need to be absolutely sure that your baby requires it. Check that your baby is not simply deeply asleep or has had a convulsion. To check this shake her, call her name or even pinch her skin to try to wake her up. If this fails call for help and follow the steps below.
CPR is best remembered with a cool, calm head. Not easy I know, but if you can remember ABC, you will know what to do.
ABC stands for Airway, Breathing and Circulation
Firstly clear your baby’s airway and check if she is breathing. If not you can then start artificial ventilation. The lack of oxygen may have caused her heart to slow and stop. If your baby has no pulse – or a very weak one – you must compress the chest to push blood through the heart and back into circulation.
- Open your baby’s mouth and check for any foreign objects. Remove them if there are any. Take care not to push any object further into the throat.
- Tip her head slightly backwards by placing one finger under her chin. This opens the airway to the lungs.
- Look at her chest to see if there is a rise and fall. Place your cheek to her mouth and feel for breath for five counts. If you see or feel nothing check her pulse. If there is no pulse start artificial ventilation.
- Feel for a pulse by placing two fingers on the fleshy part of the inner arm. Press gently into the bone for five counts. If you cannot feel a pulse or if it is slow or weak (less than 60 beats per minute) start chest compressions.
- If your baby is breathing and has a pulse, cradle her in your arms horizontally with her face and entire body towards your chest and call for an ambulance immediately.
Use artificial ventilation alone if you baby is not breathing but has a good pulse. Before starting artificial ventilation call for an ambulance and then do the following.
- Cover your baby’s nose and mouth with your mouth and exhale into it. Do not blow!! Simply breathe out.
- When her chest rises, stop and allow her chest to fall naturally then repeat. You need to do one breath every three seconds. Check every ten breaths that she still has a pulse.
- Continue to do this until help arrives.
Use chest compression if your baby has no pulse or a weak pulse. Before starting chest compressions, call for an ambulance and then do the following.
- Place the tips of two fingers on your baby’s chest, one fingerbreadth below the level of her nipples.
- Press down on her chest (about 2cm). You are aiming for a rate of 100 compressions a minute i.e. five in three seconds.
- Release the pressure but keep your fingers on baby’s chest after every compression.
If your baby is not breathing and has no pulse, use artificial ventilation with chest compressions as follows.
- Give five breaths of artificial ventilation and then check her pulse.
- Give five chest compressions followed by one breath of artificial ventilation.
- Repeat five chest compressions and one breath of artificial ventilation for 20 cycles checking for a pulse every minute.
- Continue the cycle of five chest compressions, one breath and checking pulse until help arrives.
It is vital that important telephone numbers are kept handy for times of emergency. Don’t take it for granted that they will not change or are still in service so check them from time to time.
- Telkom Emergency – 10177 (Ambulance services – free call)
- Cell phone Emergency – 112 (Ambulance services – free call)
- Netcare 911 – 082 911 (Cell phone charges apply)
- ER24 Call Centre – 084 124 (Cell phone charges apply)
You are also able to find out where your nearest CPR training facility is by calling 10177.