WHEN Natalie Beale first brought her baby daughter Chelsea home from hospital, like any new mother, she was absolutely exhausted.
She was up at 2:30 in the morning feeding her four-day-old baby but felt herself nodding off, so her husband Richard took over while Natalie slept. Just 10 minutes later, crisis struck.
“He came rushing into the room and said ‘I think Chelsea’s choking’. I took one look at her and I said ‘Oh my God, she’s going completely blue’,” Natalie, from Sydney, told news.com.au.
“He called the ambulance and I just tried to clear her airwaves and remove what was blocking her,” she said.
By this stage, Chelsea was frothing at the mouth and the emergency call responder told Natalie to immediately start CPR.
“I just remember her saying ‘Go as hard and as fast as you can’. I’d been trained how to do it, so I knew you had to compress the chest down one third of the way,” Natalie said.
“Watching me do those hard compressions really freaked Richard out, the whole situation was awful. For eight minutes we were doing the compressions and it was the longest eight minutes of my life.
“But as soon as we started the blood must have started pumping around her body, because her colour started coming back. She just started breathing before [the ambulance] got there.”
Natalie believes knowing proper first aid training saved her daughter’s life. St John Ambulance is encouraging Australians, particularly parents, to complete a first aid course and learn how to properly perform CPR.
“I just went into autopilot and I did what I’ve been trained to do,” Natalie said.
“You don’t want to think the worst, but eight minutes is a long time to be doing compressions. I feel like we saved her life. We’re so lucky.”
While many people are hesitant about performing CPR and potentially causing an injury, St John Ambulance CPR trainer Josh Clark doing something is better than nothing.
“The person is already having the worst day of their lives. They are unconscious, unresponsive, they’re not breathing. In fact, they’re already dead. You can’t make that situation any worse.,” Mr Clark said.
“The only thing you can do is do CPR until the person starts breathing again. It is as simple as putting your hands on the person’s chest in the centre between their arms and you push down one third of the chest depth,” he said.
“You do 30 compressions for every two breaths and perform that cycle five times in two minutes. It can make such a big difference.
“If it’s an elderly person, there is a chance you would break their ribs. But everyone knows someone who has cracked their ribs and that’s not a life threatening injury. Not breathing is life threatening. By doing compressions, you’re pumping blood around that person’s body.”
Mr Clark encourages all parents to take the one-day Caring For Kids course, which covers a range of injuries including resuscitation of an infant or child, bleeding, choking, and poisoning.
For more information visit the St John Ambulance website or call 1300 360 455.