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  • Sharon Burbidge

Do you know the differences in treating a child requiring first aid, compared to an adult?


There are several differences in the treatment of infants and children requiring first aid compared to adults, and understanding these differences could save a life.


1. Choking

The procedure for choking adults and children is very similar, but is very different for babies due to their much smaller size and the potential risk of causing harm to their developing body. Babies and young children are much more likely to choke on food or foreign objects than adults, however performing abdominal thrusts is difficult and instead, if the infant is still choking after 5 firm back blows, chest thrusts should be used. To do this, lay the baby face-up along the length of your thighs, and using two fingers, press down sharply in the middle of the breastbone, aiming to compress the chest by about a third.



2. CPR

For adults, you should use begin by using two hands for chest compressions, kneeling next to them and placing the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the person's chest. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers. Position yourself with your shoulders above your hands and using your body weight press straight down by 5 to 6cm on their chest. You should give 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths.


In children and infants, you should begin CPR with 5 initial rescue breaths as it's more likely children will have a problem with their airways than their hearts. With children over 1 years old, you should only use one hand for chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths, however if you cannot depress the chest by 5cm with one hand only, you should use two hands as the depth of the chest compressions is very important. For infants under 1 year, you should only use two fingers for chest compressions and push down by 4cm, but if you can't achieve a depth of 4cm with each compression, you should use the heel of one hand instead.



3. Defibrillation

For adults, you can use any AED fitted with standard pads. For children under 8 years old, it is highly advised that you use special paediatric AED pads where available, which deliver a less powerful shock. If these are not available, you should still use adult pads. When using paediatric AED pads on small children aged 1-8, one pad should be placed in the centre of the child’s back, with the other one on the centre of their chest. This differs from adults and older children, where both pads go on the chest.


Accidents and illnesses are to be expected in babies and young children, so it is crucial that anyone who works with children and parents alike are well informed on the differences in First Aid procedures.


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