First aid for children: how to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation and how to react if a child chokes

Every year since 2000, World First Aid Day has been held on the second Saturday of September – an opportunity to remind everyone how important it is to take a first aid course or refresh your knowledge if the last time you attended such classes was a billion years ago. Please take the time for this – it can really save someone’s life!

There is an opinion that it is necessary to divide dangerous situations that can happen to a child or an adult into two categories: situations that threaten life, and situations that just look terrible. The provision of first aid is critical in the first case — your participation will help the person to live until the ambulance arrives. This category includes everything related to respiratory disorders in the victim, because a person cannot live without breathing and normal blood circulation. In such cases, it is necessary to save him.

The first important rule is to ensure your own safety

The first rule that all parents are advised to remember: if something terrible has happened, it is necessary to ensure their own safety so that the parent does not become another victim – he did not get hit on the head by the very swings from which the child just fell, and did not become a victim of a traffic accident himself. If something happens, you don’t have to rush headlong, pick up the child and shake him, but you need to try to stay calm, say “Stop” to yourself in order to switch. It is not necessary to act on the principle of “die yourself, help out your friend” — this is the wrong line. First you need to make sure that the situation becomes safe for the rescuer himself.

Three things to check when assessing the condition of an injured child:

If you have made sure that the situation is now safe for you, then you need to approach the child and check these three parameters in his condition:


You have to determine if the victim is conscious, that is, does he answer the questions (if the child is already talking)? If the child is over a year old and he is lying down, you should come up, slap him a little on the shoulders — this movement should not cause pain, but at least a little should cause discomfort so that the child responds to it.


To check your breathing, sit next to the lying child, tilt the child’s head back a little and bend over to him, count ten seconds (say “1001, 1002, 1003” and so on to “1010”) and look at his chest. If the baby is breathing, then during this time you should see at least two chest lifts.


Check if the child has visible bleeding?

If the child is conscious, he is alive and he is definitely breathing, you can calmly figure out what to do next. If the child is unconscious and without breathing, you should immediately call an ambulance. If there are several people at the scene, then ideally one person should call an ambulance, and the other should start doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation at this time. If there was only one person next to the victim, then he needs to call an ambulance first, and then proceed to the procedure of artificial respiration. Or call an ambulance on speakerphone, and at this time already start doing those special chest presses, which we will tell you about a little later. If the child is unconscious, but breathing, he must be moved to a safe lateral position — that is, put the child sideways, on the left side, bending his leg so that the tongue does not sink.

How to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation (artificial respiration)

The brain lives without oxygen for a maximum of 10 minutes. Therefore, victims who are unconscious and without breathing are given cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). All those who breathe themselves do not need to do any artificial respiration. In order to do CPR, you need to undress a person — you will need to see his anatomical structure to find the median line on the chest between the nipples. In the middle of this line is the heart (yes, it is in the center, not on the left). It is necessary to kneel next to the victim and place the base of your palm in the center of his chest. If this is a child who is already a year old, then with one hand you begin to rhythmically press on his chest, pressing it to a depth of four to six centimeters. You will need to make 30 such clicks. After that, if you are ready to breathe mouth-to-mouth, you can take two breaths into the victim’s mouth, while pinching his nose with your fingers. That is, the ratio of clicks and breaths should be 30:2. If the child is already a teenager and looks like an adult in size, pressing should be done with two hands — put one hand on the other. By doing such work, you depict the activity of the victim’s body — so that his brain receives oxygen at your expense and remains alive. Artificial respiration should be done until an ambulance arrives. But even when she arrived, you can’t stop right away — most likely, the ambulance will take some time to uncover all its equipment. Wait for the command from the ambulance doctors that you can stop resuscitation. If you can’t overcome yourself to start doing mouth-to-mouth artificial respiration, do only pressing. There is a belief that during CPR it is possible to break an injured rib — this is true. But if the brain stays alive, the ribs will somehow heal. By the way, in children the ribs break much less often than in adults, and in infants they almost never break, because the bones are still very elastic.

During respiratory resuscitation of infants, not the entire hand is placed on the chest, but only two fingers: the index and middle. You also need to do 30 taps and two breaths. If you have long nails, bend your fingers and place your knuckles on the baby’s chest.

How to provide first aid to a drowning person

First you need to pull the drowned person onto any hard surface: it can be a shore or a boat. Remember, if a person is unconscious and not breathing, he needs to do CPR — no matter how he came to this state. It used to be customary to “drain” water from drowned people first. There are still such posters: the rescuer has outweighed the victim over his knee and is waiting for the water to flow out of him. But when you put a person on your knee, water flows not from the lungs, but from the stomach. The lungs are a porous sponge, they will not be able to give off water in this way. Water from the lungs can only pour out if we press on the lungs. For the first 30 taps, both the child and the adult will have most of the water squeezed out.

What should I do if the child choked?

Sometimes it is difficult to understand whether a child has choked or not. The first sign: the child seems to be trying to cough, but he can’t do it. Adults often turn red at this moment, and children turn blue. As a rule, we closely monitor how the baby eats at the table, but the child can choke anywhere — playing with some small objects. An average of one minute passes between the moment of “choking” and the moment of “losing consciousness”. The child is likely to be in a panic, it is necessary to tell him: “I will help you now”, try to react calmly so that he does not jump too much, does not hurt you. Your task is to hug the child from behind, put his hand, clenched in a fist, on the navel, then close the embrace with the second hand and make a sharp compression. You need to do “not a gentle push, but to jerk”. In fact, your fist should reach the spine of the child. Due to this, the air will press down on the foreign object from below, and it will fly out.

If the baby choked up to a year, then the algorithm of actions you should have is different. But in general, remember that when providing first aid, you need to focus on the configuration of the body, and not on the actual age. Some children at one and a half years old look like nine months old. First you need to look at the baby’s mouth. If there is an object sticking out of there, pull it and try to get it. If nothing sticks out of the mouth, do not put your finger in the child’s mouth: you can pull some objects out of his mouth, but these will not be the objects that caused suffocation, because those objects are much deeper. Fix the position of the child’s head with your fingers, take him in your arms and put his stomach on his knee, head down. Put your palm on the child’s back and squeeze it with all your strength and do so until it helps (but a maximum of five times). If this option did not help, then you need to turn the child on his back and hold him again with his head slightly tilted down, and then use two fingers to make presses, as during CPR.

If you see that something has happened and you have a psychological willingness to help – be sure to help. You can perform CPR on someone else’s child without getting permission from his relatives, if they were not around. The only thing that cannot be done is to give the victim any medications on their own before the ambulance arrives.

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