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Would you know how to save your child's life?


Knowledge: Lorraine Olohan, pictured with her children Ryan, Aidan and Lara, undertook Red Cross Training in case of emergencies

Knowledge: Lorraine Olohan, pictured with her children Ryan, Aidan and Lara, undertook Red Cross Training in case of emergencies

Knowledge: Lorraine Olohan, pictured with her children Ryan, Aidan and Lara, undertook Red Cross Training in case of emergencies

In Ireland, accidents are sadly still a significant cause of death among children, especially in the under-fives age group.

An estimated 75 children die, 150,000 children are treated in Accident & Emergency, and 15,000 children are admitted to hospital here every year.

Every parent's nightmares include the prospect of a choking child, a bang on the head that knocks their son or daughter out, or the cut so deep that blood is left squirting from an artery.

The question we would all like to answer in a positive way is -- could we save our child's life? Records from the Department of Health and Children show that in children, injury mortality is greater than childhood mortality from all other causes combined.

And with nine out of 10 accidents being preventable, the best thing parents can do is educate themselves on everyday tips to reduce the risk of mishaps, and what to do if an emergency does arise.

Not knowing how to react in an emergency can put a child in further danger than the original injury. Some parents may have the best intentions but if they do the wrong thing, the situation can be made worse.

Try the quiz to assess your knowledge of first-aid.

How would you react in an emergency situation?

1) If your baby is choking, what would you do first?

a. Turn his or her face down (supporting the head) and apply up to five back slaps.

b. Check there is nothing inside his or her mouth.

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c. Turn them upside down and shake.

The answer is a. The head must be supported during the procedure to protect the baby's neck and help maintain an airway. It is important that the head is lower than the chest to make sure that when dislodged, the object falls out of the mouth and is not re-inhaled.

2) What do the symptoms of meningitis include?

a. Fever/vomiting/light sensitivity/stiff neck/headache/drowsiness/rash.

b. Breathlessness.

c. Very pale skin.

The answer is a. It is not easy to recognise meningitis. If your baby or child does have the symptoms described in (a), including a rash, try the tumbler or glass test. Roll a glass tumbler over the rash and if the rash does not fade when the glass is over it, call 999.

3) If your child is bleeding heavily, how can you control the flow?

a. Pour cold water over it.

b. Check that nothing is embedded in the wound, then press on it with your hand and a clean cloth and then secure it with a bandage.

c. Pat it with a dry cloth.

The answer is b. While it is important to stop any serious bleeding, you must also ensure that you will not make the situation any worse by pushing anything further into the wound. A bandage will help prevent any infection getting into the wound and will also help control the bleeding.

4) If your child scalds or burns him or herself, for example, by touching a hot iron or by spilling boiling water, what should you do?

a. Cover the wound with cold butter.

b. Apply running cold water to the site of the burn for at least 10 minutes and then cover the wound using a clean pad or cling film to prevent infection.

c. Wrap a clean cloth around the burn.

The answer is b. Cooling the area with running water will stop the skin burning further and reduce the swelling. It takes a few minutes to draw the heat from a burn.

5) If your baby is not moving normally and does not respond to your voice, what should you do first?

a. Shout at them until they wake up.

b. Give him or her a tap or tickle on the soles of their feet.

c. Check for breathing by looking for a chest movement; listen for breathing and feel for the baby's breath on your cheek.

The answer is c. Most babies will respond to their parents' voices. If this does not happen, you need to find out how serious their condition is. The easiest way is to check if they are breathing normally. If you are in any doubt, phone 999 immediately.

6) What should you do if you suspect your child has drunk something poisonous?

a. Give them a glass of water.

b. Try to make them sick.

c. If they are conscious, ask what they have swallowed and call 999.

The answer is c. Do not make them sick as this may harm them further. Try to identify the substance and seek urgent medical advice. Never give the person anything to drink unless advised to do so by the emergency services. Water or milk may make them sick.

7) What should you do if your child stands on a piece of glass and a shard becomes embedded in the skin?

a. Pull it out and cover the wound with a large plaster.

b. Leave it in there but bandage around the wound without pressing directly on it.

c. Leave the glass but cover with a large plaster to control the bleeding.

The answer is b. Removing the glass could cause the bleeding to worsen, because the glass could be plugging the wound. Covering the wound with a plaster may force the glass in further. By bandaging the wound it secures the object in place until medical help can be sought.

'Knowing what not to do is often more important'

Lorraine Olohan, a busy mother-of-three from Offaly, feels she is better equipped to deal with any family emergency having learned first aid with the Red Cross

She joined the Red Cross after she found herself at the side of a road in Banagher tending to a motorbike accident.

"The guy had multiple fractures, and had lost all his calf muscles and a knee cap. The only thing holding his leg together was the seam of his trousers. He also had a punctured lung," Lorraine explains.

"With no training I really didn't know if I was doing the right thing. And I had to wait for 40 minutes for the ambulance to arrive," she added.

"I kept thinking that if I had proper training I would be better able to deal with it, but from what little I knew I made sure he had an airway and I didn't move him." Doctors later told Lorraine that through her actions she had saved the motorcyclist's life.

"Knowing what not to do is often more important. If I had done anything else he would have died on the road," said Lorraine.

As a mother of three children, Lara, 7, Aidan, 8, and Ryan,13, Lorraine says she would now feel much more confident handling any injury situation that could affect her family.

"The hardest casualty to deal with is somebody you know. It is 100 times more difficult because of all the emotion involved. "That's why it is important to know how to deal with a situation correctly," Lorraine explains.

"A lot of the technique is in knowing how to stay calm and take a few seconds to assess the situation. That is a hard but vital thing to do when it is your own child who is injured." Lorraine got so much out of her Red Cross training that she carried on learning, and she is now qualified to the highest level of Emergency Medical First Responder.

She finds herself in huge demand around the country. Last year she provided First Aid services at 40 different events as a volunteer.

Learn about first aid courses in your area by contacting the Red Cross at www.redcross.ie or (01) 642 4600. There are also many training organisations that teach first aid to parents and groups such as childcare workers. These include Zenith Services, Fairview Strand, Dublin 3. Tel: (01) 690 3264. www.zenithservices.ie

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