MSP on daughter’s choking experience

Alex Cole-Hamilton with daughter (left pic) and coin (right pic)Image copyright Alex Cole-Hamilton

An MSP has said he is “counting blessings” after saving his daughter from choking on a coin.

Alex Cole-Hamilton said four-year-old Darcy was taken to hospital after she swallowed the coin on Saturday night.

On Sunday evening, he tweeted about how he had resuscitated the girl and wanted more people to learn first aid.

He said that when Darcy stopped breathing, he slapped her back so the coin moved enough to open her airway until professional help arrived.

‘Strangled cry’

Edinburgh Western MSP Mr Cole-Hamilton told BBC Radio Scotland that his daughter was in her pyjamas playing on the computer when he heard a “strangled cry” as she started to choke.

He said she managed to tell him she had swallowed a coin, but he could see she was struggling to breathe.

Image copyright Alex Cole-Hamilton

He said he used “half-remembered” lessons from a first aid course he did more than 25 years ago when he was learning to scuba dive, which came back to him when he realised she had stopped breathing.

He said with “laser beam focus” he knew what to do.

“I inverted her, turned her upside down, applied five or six firm back slaps with an open hand to her back”, he said.

“Eventually she was sick. She didn’t bring up the coin but she shifted it because I heard her gasp after she was sick.

‘Counting blessings’

Darcy was taken to Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children by ambulance, where the coin was removed under general anaesthetic.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said that after hearing from other parents that they have never had first aid training he wanted to encourage more people to learn.

He wants to “build awareness of how easy it is to learn basic first aid”.

Image copyright Alex Cole-Hamilton
Image caption Darcy had the coin removed under general anaesthetic and is now recovering well

He added in a tweet on Sunday night: “Darcy’s safe and happy tonight, bothering her brothers and eating like a horse, and I am counting blessings.”

He said he would “forever be in the debt” of the “magnificent” Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS Lothian staff.

“We were very lucky. The story could have ended very differently”, he said.

What should you do if a child is choking?

1. For a choking child who is conscious:

  • Ask “Are you choking?”
  • Encourage the child to cough.

2. If the child is unable to speak or stops coughing or breathing normally:

  • Bend the child well forward.
  • Give up to five back blows between the shoulder blades using the heel of the hand, watching to see if the object is expelled.
  • Check the mouth; remove any obvious obstruction.

3. If back blows fail:

  • Stand behind the child and place a fist, thumb inwards, on the abdomen mid way between the bottom of the breastbone and the belt line.
  • Cover your fist with the other hand. With the child bending well forward, pull inwards and upwards firmly, but not violently.
  • Give up to five abdominal thrusts.
  • Check the mouth; remove any obvious obstruction.
  • If the obstruction has not cleared, repeat up to three cycles of back blows and abdominal thrusts checking the mouth after each cycle.
  • If the obstruction has not cleared after three cycles, dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance.
  • Continue until help arrives or the child becomes unconscious.

If the child becomes unconscious, open the airway and check for breathing. If not breathing, give five initial rescue breaths. If you cannot achieve effective rescue breaths give 30 chest compressions (the aim is to relieve the obstruction) then two rescue breaths.

Do not turn the child upside down as this may move the obstruction further down the child’s throat, or further injury could be caused if the child is dropped.

Source: St Andrew’s First Aid


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