The importance of keeping first aid skills up to date


Just a few week's ago, I experienced the most terrifying moment of my entire life. I am not exaggerating here as I am prone to do... even thinking about it now induces feelings of anxiety and panic and I am still unable to bath Ethan or even enter our downstairs bathroom for that matter just yet.

Ethan had been a little out of sorts one Sunday but still relatively happy, eating etc after a bit of a temp in the morning that came down easily with panadol. Fast forward to the early evening and he was a bit drowsy so instead of waiting for Scott to get home, I decided to bath him and get him to bed. We hopped in the bath together and he was playing although more subdued than usual when suddenly he went rigid, through his head back and started convulsing in my arms. I luckily recognised the convulsion and leapt out of the bath holding him and turned on the shower. The shower was freezing and slow to warm (I knew to put him under lukewarm water) so I grabbed my phone off the vanity (thank goodness I always have it nearby) and dialed 000. I fumbled to unlock and actually get it dialed while trying to calm myself and keep talking to E whose movements were slowing. I laid him on the bath mat when the convulsion stopped and put the phone on speaker ... Ethan started to turn blue while I was waiting for connection to the ambulance and I got down to check the rise and fall of his chest which is when I realised he wasn't breathing. I started mouth to mouth resuscitation, shouting at the operator in between breaths. After maybe 5 breaths, his colour started to return and I kept talking to him, patting him and he started breathing very shallowly.

He wouldn't respond to me but his eyes were open and he was making a sad little mewing sound so I wrapped him in a towel and raced to our room to get dressed all the while talking to the operator and reassuringly to Ethan. He continued to be unresponsive and was very drowsy, closing his eyes which terrified me. I threw on the first dress I could grab, picked up his baby bag and sat at the front door, shaking with fear. The ambulance seemed to take forever (at least 15 mins) and I alternated between tears, trying to stay in control, comforting Ethan/trying to keep him awake and shouting at the operator to please hurry up. I also had no way of contacting Scott as I had to stay on the line to the operator until the ambulance arrived.

After what felt like the longest wait, I met the ambulance at our driveway and they were very reassuring and comforting. They let me keep holding Ethan and strapped us onto the bed. I quickly called Scott, asking him not to panic but to please meet us at the hospital. He was around the corner so made it home just before we left and was able to reassure himself that Ethan was conscious at least. The paramedics applied monitoring equipment to Ethan  and his temperature spiked to 39.4 so they administered so panadol just in case it kept rising.

At the hospital, Ethan was assessed by the paed and monitored on breathing and heart rate monitors. Ethan dozed on and off on me while I finally broke down and sobbed the fear away to Scott. After about two hours there, I asked the paed if I could try and get Ethan to feed and she told me there was nothing better I could do than breastfeed him so I woke him gently and he cuddled in and fed slowly but well - looking back on that moment, it felt like the first moment he was put to my breast after he was born ... like it was all new but we both knew what to do. He brightened immensely after a long feed and his temperature came down steadily after awhile. It was also a great comfort for me to have that closeness with him after such a scary few hours.

It was ultimately decided that he had experienced a febrile convulsion which are relatively common in young children when their temperature spikes too high too fast for their little bodies. It can be linked to a virus but in this case was just one of those things as they could find no source of illness other than the temperature. He continued to have high temps on and off over the following days but they were responsive to panadol and nurofen and eventually passed altogether.

Thankfully he has been well since and shows no ill effects or signs so we can only hope we never have to go through that again. I on the other hand still have a little anxiety around the whole memory and still tear up just thinking about it let alone talking about it. I know that will fade but its still a little too raw and fresh for me. I can only be enormously grateful for my whole life of Surf Life Saving training and that I was able to keep a relatively calm head and recognised the convulsion for what it was. After this experience, I definitely encourage all parents to enroll in a first aid course or at least familiarise yourself with ailments that are common in childhood as you just never know when you will need the knowledge, even in your own home.

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