Healthy Expectations: Infant CPR can save lives when every second counts

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Ashley Brown is a proud mom of daughter Eleanora, who is about to be four and a half, and now baby number two is on the way.

“I did take a class before I had her,” Brown says about Eleanora. “But it’s time to refresh on some things before this baby comes.”

8News Anchor Amy Lacey, who is expecting her first child in December, invited Brown to join her at Richmond Ambulance Authority to learn the basics of infant CPR.

“You want to be able to react very quickly,” says Harold Mayfield, the Training Coordinator at Richmond Ambulance Authority.

Mayfield explains a young child’s windpipe is very narrow. Some health officials describe it as the diameter of a drinking straw.

Mayfield says if what the baby is choking on cannot be easily removed, assess the situation by asking a few questions.

“Are they moving? Are they breathing?”

If the baby is not, call 911 and use two fingers for five chest compressions followed by five back slaps with the child angled downward.

If repeating those steps does not help and the child slips into cardiac arrest, Mayfield advises administering 30 chest compressions followed by two breaths.

The National Safety Council says choking is one of the leading causes of unintentional death for young children.

Moms like Brown know prevention is crucial.

“Especially during meal time I’m constantly, ‘Chew your food, make sure you take extra bites,'” she describes her regular interactions with Eleanora.

When choking does happen, however, Mayfield says every second counts.

“Having that knowledge and education and knowing what to do at the right time will ultimately save the child’s life.”

Mayfield says any 911 dispatcher can talk a parent or caregiver through what to do until help arrives.

The Richmond Ambulance Authority reports it does not respond to many infant and child choking calls each year, and it actively teaches CPR classes for people of all ages.

Email cpr@raaems.org to inquire about CPR classes at Richmond Ambulance Authority.

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