Friday, June 10, 2011

Skill for life

Would you know how to help your child if they are injured?

Ask any mother how it feels to hear your child let out a chilling, ear-piercing scream and they will tell you it gives them a moment of terror, followed by a mad rush to get to their child to see what is wrong and to comfort them.
Maternal instinct is stronger than ever, and the adrenalin pumping through you makes you the fastest thing on two legs.
I’ve had a few moments like these.
Once I thought Miss Five had fallen off the cubby house (which is close to a two metre drop), but in fact she had only tripped over and was fine.
Another time Miss One bumped her head on furniture while crawling with a blanket on her head (some funny game she was playing with her sister).
When a child is hurt, all you want to do is try and take the pain away, and most of the time, all they need is a cuddle and/or a Bandaid.
But what if something far worse happens?
Would you know what to do if your child was choking? Would you know what to do if your child was found face down in the pool? Would you know how to treat a serious gash or a broken bone?
I think for most of us the answer is not black and white. Yes, we’d do whatever we could to help our child, but on the other hand, some parents may panic, and end up doing all the wrong things when it comes to first aid.
The only thing more frightening than your child being injured is not knowing what to do to help your child.
A Kiwi friend of mine was telling me how the hospitals in New Zealand insist every mother does a first aid course before leaving with their newborn baby.
The course is short, but is aimed specifically at teaching first aid for infants.
What a fantastic idea! I wish Australian hospitals or community health centres offered this service.
It is a sad fact that each year in Queensland, more than 15,500 children aged under 15 years are sent to hospital emergency departments for injuries sustained in the home, back yard or garden, and about 15 per cent of these children require admission to hospital.
Almost 40 per cent of back yard injuries are associated with falls, while other injuries include cuts, incidents with animals and bike accidents.
Kids are accident-prone, and while I’m definitely not advocating wrapping them in cotton wool, I do think it’s a parents’ responsibility to have first aid skills.
Fortunately, there are many resources available to parents that can give them the skills and knowledge to confidently deal with the inevitable scrapes, bumps and illnesses that are part of childhood, and to prevent more serious injuries from occurring.
The top five skills you should learn are: Treating cuts, scrapes and other minor wounds; stopping bloody noses; taking care of burns; choking; and CPR.
If you learn how to perform treatment for these five circumstances, you will be prepared to properly deal with the most common forms of injury your child may have.
There are plenty of online resources, however there is no guarantee that the information comes from a reputable source.
You can also find information in books such as First Aid for Babies and Children Fast endorsed by St John Ambulance.
However, there is no substitute for hands-on first aid training when it comes to the confidence and solid knowledge needed in an emergency situation.
St John Ambulance offers a course called Caring for Kids which is designed to meet the first aid needs of parents, grandparents and carers in the child care industry, as well as members of the public who may be entrusted with the care of babies and children up to 12 years of age.
The course covers DRSABCD action plan, CPR, choking, asthma, bleeding and wounds, burns, fractures, head injuries, bites, poisoning and illnesses.
This qualification remains current for three years, during which time a recertification course must be completed.
St John Ambulance also offers more specific programs such as Junior First Aid, CPR, Sports First Aid and Anaphylaxis Training.
For more details call 1300 360 455 or visit
Queensland Ambulance has a Parents, Bubs and Toddlers First Aid Awareness Program designed to give parents, grandparents and carers the basic skills in applying first aid including CPR, treating burns, cuts, choking, croup, febrile convulsions, allergies and more.
For more information visit or phone 4039 8774.
The Queensland Ambulance website also has a Triple O puzzle for kids to play, and the Triple Zero Challenge where they can learn about safety messages and hear what happens when you call Triple Zero, while also playing games and solving mysteries.
I played the latter game playing with Miss Five, and would highly recommend it to every parent.
The Department of Community Safety also has an online game called Get Ready Kidnas which aims to help get kids ready for emergencies. Visit
The Australian Red Cross also offers a number of first aid courses, for a variety of purposes including Caring for Children, Basic First Aid for Childcare, Babysitting courses and Basic First Aid.
For details phone 1300 367 428 or go to
From ensuring your home is baby-proofed, to enrolling your teenager in a defensive driving course, safety is an important part of parenting, and learning first aid is the best place to start. And don’t forget to buy a good quality first aid kit.


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