No Ordinary Princess

...anything but ordinary...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Infant / Toddler Choking Care and AED's

My friend, Jess (she thinks SHE'S the peachiest but we all know Jersey peaches are better), had a scary moment with her infant the other day. I hope I don't get in any trouble here and don't any of you goofs out there even think about suing me! I'm doing this as a public service and am covered by the Good Samaritan laws.

Children, especially infants and toddlers will choke on things. If you raised a child that never choked on a hot dog or penny well, I don't know how you did it! My friend, Jess, had a recent scare when her infant managed to pop a bottle cap into his mouth and choke on it, probably all within the span of 15 seconds. Yes, children do choke on things they put in their mouths.

If your child has choked on something, please don't berate yourself as a bad parent. These things happen, unless we raise our children in a plastic bubble.
The important thing is to be prepared and know how to deal with it.

Here is some basic information about how to respond to choking in a child from the American Heart Association, the organization that provides community CPR training.

Here is information from eHow (God, I love that site) for how to help a choking infant. I can't tell you how many times in his first two years of life I had my son splayed along my forearm trying to force out something he'd gotten lodged in his throat. While having knowledge is helpful, it still doesn't make you panic any less when it's your child that's not breathing. Your heart races and time drag on forever. It's much more reassuring to have a plan of attack, particularly when the adrenaline gets going.

Here is information from The Heimlich Institute on choking in adult, infants and children. Although this is valuable information, for all the years I've been taking CPR for Healthcare Providers, I've always been taught to try the "throw the baby over your forearm with its head down" maneuver as the first move and that's what saved Mike so many times as an infant and toddler.

Here is information on CPR from The University of Washington's School of Medicine, complete with videos! What I think they've left out of the choking infant video is to check the mouth for an object and only sweep the infant/child's mouth if something is clearly visible. If you can't see it, you probably can't get it and might just lodge it even further down the throat. When you sweep the mouth, insert your finger in at one corner, slide it down that side of the cheek to the back of the throat, move it laterally across the back of the throat then out by sweeping across the opposite cheek. NEVER do this unless you can see the object.

There are numerous organizations in the US that provide training in basic first aid and CPR. This is partiicularly important for new parents. You never know when you might need it. Imagine how you'll feel if your child is choking and you watch, helplessly, because you don't know how to respond. Please consider contacting a local organization or hospital to learn basic CPR and first aid. Your baby's life may depend on it someday.
  • The American Heart Association
  • The American Red Cross
  • The University of Washington School of Medicine was kind enough to provide the phone number for CPR training by the American Heart Association...1-800-AHAUSA1. For the "phone-numbers-as-letters impaired" or irritated (like me) that's 1-800-242-8721. (Just gimme the damned number, not some catchy 7-letter phrase!)
  • Here is the AHA's site to find a CPR class near you.
While you're at it, consider learning how to feel comfortable with the use of an AED, or Automated External Defibrillator. The most common of lethal cardiac arrhythmias are Ventricular Tachycardia and Ventricular Fibrillation. This machine, which is becoming more common in public settings for use by lay persons (yes, that means you), really is a no-brainer that could save a life. With a delay in defibrillation, the mortality rate for people who've suffered a lethal cardiac arrhythmia is enormous. Even in hospital settings, the survival rate is greatly improved by the early use of defibrillation.

A defibrillator delivers a set dose of electricity to the heart through the chest wall, often shocking the heart back into a rhythm which is capable of circulating blood (and, thus, oxygen). Yes, people's bodies do jump when they receive the shocks. With an AED, sticky pads are applied to designated spots on the victim's chest wall and connect to the defibrillator. You do not have to touch anything while delivering a shock. As a matter of fact, it's important that you and everyone else is completely out of contact with the victim as the shock is delivered.

The AED's provide spoken instructions for use which are very simple and easy to understand. It guides a non-trained user through every step needed to perform successful defibrillation on a pulseless cardiac arrest victim.

Anyone can do it. I wish everyone could feel comfortable with the device so its use would become even more widespread. Please consider taking a basic CPR or first aid class so you, too, can feel you can help save a life with an AED.

Technorati tags: health and science / life / medicine / nursing / parenthood


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