I’ve been CPR and First Aid certified since I took my first business class when I was 12 years old. I took a babysitting course offered by the Red Cross. They taught me babysitting etiquette, how to handle situations without conflict, how to evaluate my services and provide pricing and the importance of being First Aid certified. Over the years I’ve taken courses to keep my certification up to date learning new techniques and methods, reverting to old ones only to be replaced by new ones again.
Once I became a mom I quickly realized the importance of my husband learning and feeling comfortable with First Aid responses. It wouldn’t do us any good for me to be certified but out running errands and my skills be needed while he was at home with the baby. So a few weeks after our oldest daughter was born, I began to teach him how to respond to common situations such as choking and burns. Thankfully he hasn’t had to use those skills but better to be prepared ahead of time.
As my daughter got older, I realized that she needed to know what to do in a medical emergency. When she was in preschool and knew her numbers, I taught her how to dial 911. I talked to her about the difference between something being important and it being an emergency. As she reached kindergarten we began doing practice drills. By this point she was comfortable dialing 911 and I walked her through the questions the dispatcher would ask her and what her answers should be. She was very good utilizing the skills I taught her in a practice scenario but I wanted to be sure that she could follow through outside of a rehearsed practice setting.
One day I told my daughter that we would start random practice drills. I reminded her for a couple of weeks that when she least expected it, I would need her to put her skills to the test. I didn’t say anything for a week or two and one day I called her in my room and told her it was drill time! I pretended to fall out of the shower and told her to pretend that I hit my head and I couldn’t talk. She immediately ran to get my phone (that I always kept in the same spot so she wouldn’t have to search all over the house in the case of an emergency) she dialed 911 without placing the call. She pretended the dispatcher was on the phone, answered the questions that we rehearsed. She didn’t have me to give her hints because I was knocked out cold.
She did an excellent job! Of course it was still a practice scenario but it was as close to the real thing as we could get. Over the years we continued to practice these drills in different scenarios, always unexpected. She was very comfortable with the actions that she needed to take. I’ve explained that should she ever actually have to dial 911 she might experience a surge of emotions during or after the call and that’s ok. The most important thing is for her to get 911 on the phone, follow their instructions and tell them where we are. They would always talk her through what to do and help her to remain as calm as possible.
As she got older, we had another daughter. I realized that in addition to knowing how to call for help, she also needed to know what to do in a situation that would need immediate attention like choking. I taught her some basic First Aid skills using a baby doll. We continued to practice those skills and talk about what steps to take and made a plan for different scenarios we might encounter.
All of the practice and drills came in handy last weekend. I went into my room to grab something and heard my 18 month old choking. Her big sister was sitting next to her and knew exactly what to do. Before I could come around the hall and to where they were, she had already handled the situation. She told me that she checked her mouth and didn’t see anything she could pull out.
She put her sister over her leg and gave her two hard pats on the back and she stopped choking. She checked her mouth, saw she was breathing normally and sat her down. I was so proud of her! It would have been so easy to freak out in the heat of the moment and not know what to do. Although I made it into the room in a matter of seconds, she reacted on autopilot and knew exactly what to do! The nerves hit her after the fact and she was a little shaky and jittery but she was so proud that she knew what to do and just reacted without a second thought.
If you are wondering when you should start teaching your child these skills, personally I would suggest as soon as they are able to understand and follow directions clearly. We started teaching her to call 911 when she was three. At that age we gave examples like what if Mommy falls off of a chair and can’t walk because she broke her ankle, Daddy’s at work so who would call the ambulance? This scenario was one that justified me not being able to do it myself but didn’t make her fearful that something bad would happen to me had I given her a scenario that rendered me unconscious. It made her feel like a big girl to know what to do and be able to help. As she got older, the scenarios changed to where they were situations that she could handle emotionally. Most practice drill scenarios came from local news stories or ones I found online searching for common household accidents. I taught her some basic First Aid skills when she was five and when she was six taught her First Aid methods for infants and babies.
If you enjoyed this post you’ll probably like this post with tips on discussing stranger danger with your young kids.
Have you taught your children any First Aid skills? Do you have any tips on this topic to share with other parents? Are you First Aid certified? Do you know what to do in a medical emergency? Has this encouraged you to check out local courses in your area? Do you have suggestions for a parenting post you’d like to see in the future? Please feel free to share your thoughts, stories or suggestions in the comments section!