When British mum, Suzanne Ford took a baby life-saving course after giving birth, she probably did not know she would have to put her skills to use as soon as possible.
The opportunity to apply the lessons she learned came after Ms Ford’s seven-month-old son, Percy started coughing and then fell silent while playing with his toys.
Ms Ford, 36, who spoke with Mirror Online, revealed she had just seconds to react and save her seven-month-old son after he began choking, noting that the development came less than 48 hours after she took a baby life-saving course.
The new mum was alerted to danger when she heard the little boy make a “funny” noise and then begin coughing as he played with his toys. She rushed to his aid as he fell terrifyingly silent.
Scooping her son up, Ms Ford quickly realised Percy’s airway was blocked by something he had swallowed off the floor.
Mirror Online reports that she dislodged the obstruction – a piece of tape – using two of the steps she learned just two days before the distressing incident.
Speaking to Mirror Online, Ms Ford described how she first grabbed Percy – now aged one – off the floor and checked his airway. She then put him on her lap and gave him five back slaps as she had been shown during the course to dislodge the obstruction.
“I rolled him back over and there it was – a piece of tape,” she recalled of the harrowing incident, which unfolded in January.
“I hugged him for a couple of minutes until he was OK.”
The British mum had learned the vital first aid skills from St John Ambulance, but she didn’t think she would ever have to put them to use.
She signed up for the life-saving course at a local children’s centre, thinking it was important to have the skills, just in case.
She added: “It was just 48 hours after I took the course.
“If I wouldn’t have taken that course the first thing I would have done is put my fingers in his mouth, and, of course, that’s the worst thing you could do.
“I would have ended up choking him even more”, Ms Ford, from Brislington, Bristol told Mirror Online.
Though the incident unfolded very quickly, Ms Ford said she was able to stay calm and prevent Percy from dying or suffering a serious injury thanks to the lessons she learned.
She recalled the close call, saying: “It was just a normal Sunday morning. My children were playing and Percy was playing with his toys on the carpet.
“Within two minutes I noticed something wasn’t right with him.
“He just picked up a bit of plastic tape on the floor and put it in his mouth and was choking on it. Percy was crawling around making a funny noise, coughing, then he went quiet.”
The British mum, who was on maternity leave at the time, added: “It was like a gagging noise. I picked him up and straight away I checked his airways and followed what the course told me to do.
“I turned him over on my lap and smacked his back as we’d been shown. I turned him over and could see that it was coming out, and I pulled the plastic out of his mouth.
“He was fine. He was a little shocked, but he was ok.”
It wasn’t until Ms Ford, a receptionist and retail worker, sat down that she realised how lucky they had both been.
She said: “I was shocked. Really shocked and really relieved.
“If it wasn’t for the skills St John Ambulance taught me on a Friday morning, I wouldn’t have known what to do, or been so confident in giving first aid”, she added.
Ms Ford and many other mums have been trained at Children’s Centres in Bristol as part of St John Ambulance’s Community Advocate programme.
The programme operates in towns and cities across the country, with trained volunteers, or community advocates, giving life-saving demonstrations that teach people how to treat someone who’s choking, how to give CPR and instructions on using a defibrillator.
Mirror Online reports that St John Ambulance, the UK’s leading first aid charity, is recruiting volunteers to help share their life-saving skills with others.
Ms Ford is now encouraging all parents to take a baby or child first aid course so they know how to respond if they’re faced with a similar situation.
She urged: “Go and take the course. You never know what will happen, do you? You never know if you’re going to need it or not.”
She added: “The course was relaxed and fun. We were able to sit in a group with our babies and learn life-saving skills, and I’m so grateful I was there.
“The fact that I could do basic first aid on my choking seven-month-old without panicking is all down to St John Ambulance.
“I quickly thought about what I had been taught, calmly assessed the situation and saved my son’s life, all in a matter of seconds, without having to wait for help and calling on the over-stretched NHS”, she added.
Mirror Online reports that Ms Ford spoke out to promote the courses as St John Ambulance recruits volunteers to help teach the life-saving skills that the mum used to save Percy.
St John Ambulance’s Community Engagement Officer, Sally Bartlett, said: “As Suzanne and Percy’s story demonstrates, you never know when you might need first aid and we’d love more people to join our advocate programme to help even more people save lives.
“The role can be flexible to suit your lifestyle – you can give as much time as suits you – and you can shape the action you take in your local community.
“St John Ambulance will give you all the training and support you need to inspire other people to learn life-saving skills.
“Our aim is to create a nation of lifesavers, one community at a time and I’m delighted that our work helped Percy’s mum when he needed her most”, Bartlett added.