A training session in first aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation at the Kidville nursery at Jumeirah Beach Residence. Such programmes give parents and others the right tools to handle medical emergencies. Image Credit: Karen Dias/Gulf News

Dubai: All it took was to ignore a bad fall and that spelled death for Mustafa Zaoui, Awatef's 80-year-old father-in law, four years ago.

Mustafa hit his head when he fell on the kitchen floor. The head injury caused a blood clot to form in his brain. Cases like these, depending on the intensity of the fall, could be treated. But if left unchecked, blood clots may lead to stroke, or worse, death.

"After his fall, the people at home noticed that his speech slurred but they just associated it with old age. Had they known how to read the signs back then and what to do, then my father-in-law could have been saved," Awatef, 30, told Gulf News.

Whether it's death due to an illness or an accident, some deaths could be prevented, and some accidents can be minimised, especially in the home where most accidents happen.

Awatef, now a full-time mum to a one-year old baby boy, is no longer taking chances when it comes to the safety of her family. She completed a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and first aid training along with eight other mothers, most of whom are first-time mums.

Three nannies also participated as most working expat mothers often leave their children under the care of nannies.

Kidville, an early childhood development facility, partnered with First International Training to provide internationally recognised and accredited courses in CPR and first aid.

The aim of first aid is to prevent the condition from getting worse, hence it is aimed at saving lives.

Local law

Internationally certified first aid trainer Razina Abdul Rashid of First International Training emphasised that to administer first aid and CPR in the UAE, it is always best to know the local law and be trained and certified by a licensed and registered provider. But she discourages disinterested people from getting the training. "In office setups, it's better to train people who volunteer for it. Otherwise, they'll just back off in an actual emergency," Razina said.

"Hopefully, I would never have to use any of these emergency skills. But it's good to know what to do when there's an emergency," Awatef said. "Most of the mothers here are expats and we don't have our mums with us or other family members to guide us how to deal with emergency cases," she added.

"My son is now starting to eat solid food. He's also beginning to put into his mouth anything that he touches. Hopefully, I would be able to manage in case he choked," she added.

Choking happens when a foreign object is ingested and blocks the airway. Nine out of ten children below the age of five die of choking according to Medic First Aid International.

As most accidents happen at home, Kidville believes that training mums and nannies in first aid and CPR is the first step to ensuring the safety of their child. "Sometimes, however you try to make your house child-safe, something really happens. And it's better to be safe than sorry," Monica Malhotra, Managing Director of Kidville, told Gulf News.

"Each individual reacts differently to emergency situations." She said during emergencies involving children most mothers can get hysterical which can affect their judgment.

Monica learned her lesson the hard way when her two-and-a-half-year-old baby girl went through two emergency situations. "My daughter had a high fever in May and she went into a seizure. It was nerve-wracking knowing that we didn't know how to help her," she said. A month later, Monica and her husband decided to take a course at Kidville. By August, her daughter fell and got a cut to her head.

"We followed every step that was taught us during the training. We put direct pressure on my daughter's cut. Then we rushed her to the hospital," she said.

Had they not applied targeted direct pressure on her baby's head, she could have bled to death.

She encourages parents and others to take first aid training.

Keeping children safe

  •  Establish an emergency mechanism at home: Display emergency hotline numbers where everyone in the house can see them. Educate your family members on what to do in case of emergency. In the UAE, dial 999 for ambulance and police.
  • Keep chemicals and hazardous materials away from children: If possible, keep them under lock and key. Most mothers keep their cleaning materials in a cabinet under the sink, but these can be easily accessed by children.
  • Avoid buying toys with small parts: Most infants and toddlers choke on toy parts, which often lead to death. Also, check for toys banned for high lead content.
  • Know your child: Look out for changes in behaviour. Ask your children what they ate and where the pain is. Look around for clues.

 Ditch the Myths! Common errors during an emergency

  • Providing first aid on the spot
  • Assess the situation first. Is it safe to help? If not, don't. Always ask for the patient's or family member's consent before helping.
  • Inducing vomiting in cases of poisoning
  • The chemical poison might already have damaged the oesophagus and by inducing vomiting, you are making the chemical go through the damaged tube again making the situation worse. Go to the nearest hospital and take the bottle or sample of the chemical that was ingested.
  • Trying to reset an open fracture
  • It's best to leave skeletal injuries to licensed medical professionals. Never move a person with a head, neck or an injury to the spinal column unless otherwise extremely necessary.
  • Putting your fingers or a spoon inside the mouth of a person who is having a seizure
  • Stuff placed inside the mouth may be accidentally swallowed or could restrict breathing. The best way is to provide support to the head.
  • Applying cold cream or toothpaste on burns
  • Use an ice pack or running water instead. Do not try and remove clothes or materials sticking to burns as this will remove skin layers as well.
  • Making a dehydrated person drink lots of water
  • Take the person out of the heat. He/she should sip water at intervals or they might choke on it.
  • Using an airbag to resuscitate a person
  • An airbag does not have the necessary oxygen, but cardiopulmonary resuscitation gives part of the oxygen in your breath to the person you are trying to revive.
  • Removing the first cotton pad/bandage applied on cuts that bleed profusely
  • Blood starts to clot on the top layer of the skin where it comes in contact with the pad. If you remove it, you are peeling away that layer. Just keep adding pads on the wound if the bleeding doesn't stop.
  • Checking for a pulse
  • Place two fingers (forefinger and middle finger) on the person's neck just below the jaw and slightly to the lower right-hand side of the chin for 10 seconds. Never use your thumb as it has a pulse of its own.
  • Information to emergency response teams
  • You have to know many are injured, nature of injury, and a landmark to easily locate where you are. Stay on the line with the operator until the team arrives.