I recently saved a little boy’s life.
It was a couple of weeks ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it.
I was at Ikea with my friend, Reb, and my son, Hunter. We had enjoyed a yummy lunch, I tasted banoffee pie for the first time, Hunter enjoyed his chicken nuggets and chips and my meatballs and mash and rebs snack too. Afterwards we walked through the newly remodelled display halls and chatted. Reb said she would happily look after Hunter if I wanted to have a look unencumbered, so I cruised ahead, enjoying the hands free shopping experience.
I was looking at some pretty plastic thing (forgotten now, the experience having put it back into perspective which is to say it was trivial decorative wank) when I noticed an 8 year old girl pushing an 18 month old boy in a stroller. I could tell where her mum and grandmother were as their nappy bag matched the stroller fabric, they were about 8 meters or so behind us discussing the relative merits of some prospective purchases. The little boy was eating a packet of sultanas. He had a funny expression on his face, and I smiled at him for a second before realising that his grimace was because he was choking. His big sister noticed this at the same time as me, her soft voice way to quiet for her mum to hear “Mum, I think he is choking”.
I did not stop to think. I rushed across the aisle of Ikea, pushing people out of the way. I threw my satchel on the ground and recall that it slid into a display but I was too busy ripping a stranger’s child out of his stroller to care about the mess. He was beyond terror. His little face showed struggle, and growing fear. I tore open his harness and pulled him towards me. I used firm upwards movements across his little heaving back to dislodge the blockage. The commotion alerted his mum. She reached us just as her little boy puked it out. Her face was completely stone cold shocked. I passed him to her and I could feel the energy pulsing out of her. The relief and terror on her face was palpable.
Afterwards it felt surreal. For one moment the veil of stranger had been pushed aside, a door of shared humanity swung open, we shared something so unreal, and then moments later we were done, back to strangers. Seeing her hold him to her chest and both of them crying somehow closed that door. I told the little girl she did a good job of alerting us, and when she can she should learn first aid because she was very smart to be so helpful. She beamed back at me as her grandmother passed me some baby wipes to mop up the spew. I felt like an intruder. I gathered my things up and headed back into the belly of the Ikea beast because all I needed at the moment was to hold my own son to me.
As I walked away the grandmother ran after me. She stared at the vomit on my arm and jeans as she thanked me, and all I could do was glibly say "no worries".
I guess I just want to let you all know that toddlers choke all the time. I’m not being provocative- it is just a fact. Rather than be afraid, be smart. Educate yourself on how to help- the life you save could someone dear to you. I wouldn’t have known what to do if my girlfriend had not done the exact same thing for a friend’s baby at Hunter’s second birthday. I asked her to show me what she had done, and after the party I watched a few Youtube Tutorials, such as this one:
There are also courses you can attend- for example in Queensland the Ambulance Service has first aid courses for parents and carers for $48.90.
Knowledge is power,