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EVEN knowing a little bit of first aid could mean you’re able to save a life.

And as a parent, having a bit of first aid skill can really put your mind at rest.

2First aid knowledge goes beyond plasters - but it's not as hard as you might thinkCredit: Getty

Dr Lynn Thomas, Medical Director for St John Ambulance, has shared the top first aid tips every parent should know.

She says: "We want everyone, and every parent, to know what to do in an emergency and have the confidence to be able to step in and save a life, if the unthinkable happens.

“Learning these skills are so easy to do and can really make all the difference in helping you save a life one day. 

“We have a vast range of online resources, in multiple languages, as well as first aid courses across the country for anyone wanting to learn a lifesaving skill. 

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“There are also lots of opportunities for young people to get involved and learn these skills too - through our six youth programmes.  

“I would really encourage everyone to visit our website - - and take a few minutes to either sign up for a course or watch a first aid video online. You never know when you may need it.” 

Here's St John Ambulance's ultimate guide to first aid as a parent…



  • Slap it out:
    • Lay the baby face down along your thigh and support their head  
    • Give five back blows between their shoulder blades  
    • Turn them over and check their mouth each time  
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    2. Squeeze it out:

    • Turn the baby over, face upwards, supported along your thigh 
    • Put two fingers in the centre of their chest just below the nipple line; push downwards to give up to five sharp chest thrusts 
    • Check the mouth each time  

    3. If the item does not dislodge, call 999 or 112 for emergency help  

    • Take the baby with you to call  
    • Repeat the steps 1 and 2 until help arrives 
    • Start CPR if the baby becomes unresponsive (unconscious)  


    1. Cough it out  

    • Encourage the casualty to keep coughing, if they can 

    2. Slap it out  

    • Lean them forwards, supporting them with one hand 
    • Give five sharp back blows between the shoulder blades 
    • Check their mouth each time but do not put your fingers in their mouth  

    3. Squeeze it out  

    • Stand behind them with your arms around their waist, with one clenched fist between their belly button and the bottom of their chest 
    • Grasp the fist in the other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards, giving up to five abdominal thrusts 
    • Check their mouth each time  

    4. Call 999 or 112 for emergency help if the object does not dislodge  

    • Repeat steps 2 and 3 until help arrives 
    • Start CPR if the person becomes unresponsive (unconscious) 

    5. Always seek medical advice if abdominal thrusts are used 


    What to look for: 

    • loss of or lack of a response 
    • vigorous shaking, with clenched fists and an arched back 
    • signs of a fever, with hot, flushed skin and sweating 
    • twitching of the face 
    • squinting, fixed or rolled back eyes 
    • breath holding with a red face and neck 
    • drooling at the mouth 
    • vomiting 
    • loss of bladder or bowel control 

    How to treat a seizure: 

  • Clear any dangerous objects: Place soft objects such as pillows, or soft padding like rolled up towels around the child or adult. This will protect them from injuring themselves while having a seizure.
    Do not restrain or move the patient unless they’re in immediate danger. Don't put anything in their mouth 
  • For children, cool them down: Take of any bedding and clothes such as t-shirts to help cool them. You may need to wait for the seizure to stop to do this. Make sure fresh air is circulating but be careful not to overcool the child. 
  • When the seizure has stopped, place them in the recovery position. Keep their airway open and call 999 or 112 for emergency help.  
  • Monitor the child’s level of response. While you wait for help to arrive, reassure the child and monitor them. 
  • In adults emergency advice should be sought if:
  • The casualty is having repeated seizures, or it is there first one 
  • The seizure continues for than five minutes 
  • The casualty is unresponsive for more than ten minutes 
  • The casualty has injured themselves

    What to look for: 

    • red skin and swelling 
    • pain in the area of the burn 
    • blistering may start to appear. 

    How to treat minor burns and scalds: 

  • Cool the burn or scald quickly
    Hold it under cool running water for at least 20 minutes or until the pain feels better 
  • Remove jewellery or clothing. Do this before the area begins to swell, unless it's stuck to the burn. 
  •  When the burn has cooled, cover the area loosely with clingfilm lengthways.  
  • Do not break blisters and don’t use ice, creams or gels. They may cause damage and increase the risk of infection. 

    If you think the baby or child has an object in the ear or nose, then call 111 for advice, they will be able to direct you to the most appropriate medical care. 

    How to treat an object in the ear nose: 

  • Do not try to remove the foreign object yourself
    You might push the object in further. 
  • Keep the casualty calm 
  • If there’s an insect inside the ear you can support the casualty’s head with the affected ear facing upwards and gently flood the ear with tepid water. The insect should float out. If flooding doesn’t remove the insect, seek medical advice. 

    What to look for:  

    • bump or bruise to the head 
    • possible head wound 
    • dizziness or vomiting 
    • short period of unresponsiveness 

    How to treat a minor head injury: 

  • Reduce swelling. Hold something cold against the injury like an ice pack or frozen bag of vegetables wrapped in a tea towel. 
  • Try to assess level of response using the ACVPU scale.
    A – Are they alert? Are their eyes open?
    C - Are they confused? Is this new for them
    V – Can they respond to you if you talk to them?
    P – Do they respond to pain? This can be difficult in babies so flick the bottom of their foot, or pinch their ear lobe, do they respond to you by moving or opening their eyes?
    U – Are they unresponsive to all of the above? If they are unresponsive or you are worried, call 999 or 112 for emergency help. 
  • Treat wounds. Clean the wound. Put pressure on the wound with a clean dressing. 
  • Keep checking level of response until they’ve recovered, or medical help arrives. 

    When a child is in the recovery position their airway is kept open and any vomit would drain away without interfering with their breathing. 

    What to look for: 

    • The child isn’t responding 
    • The child is breathing 

    How to put a child in the recovery position: 

  • Kneel by the child and straighten their legs. If they are wearing glasses, or have any bulky items in their pockets, remove them. Do not search their pockets for small items. 
  • Place the arm that is nearest to you at a right angle to their body, with the elbow bent and their palm facing upwards.
  • Bring their other arm across their chest and place the back of their hand against the cheek nearest to you and hold it there. 
  • With your other hand, pull their far knee up so that their foot is flat on the floor. 
  • Keeping the back of the child’s hand pressed against their cheek, pull on the far leg to roll the child towards you on to their side. You can then adjust the top leg so that it is bent at a right angle. 
  • Gently tilt the child’s head back and lift their chin to make sure their airway stays open. You can adjust the hand under their cheek to help keep the airway open. 
  • Call 999/112 for emergency help if it hasn’t already been done. Monitor their level of response while waiting for help to arrive. If they remain in the recovery position for 30 minutes, roll them into the recovery position on the other side.  
  • CPR

    Before beginning resuscitation, you should ask a helper to call 999 or 112 for emergency help while you start CPR. Ask a helper to find and bring a defibrillator if available. If you are on your own, you need to give one minute of CPR before calling on a speaker phone. Do not leave the child to make the call or to look for a defibrillator. 

    Baby (under one year old) 

    What to look for: 

    • The baby isn’t responding 
    • The baby isn’t breathing normally 

    How to give CPR to a baby: 

  • Open their airway and start CPR. Place them on a firm surface and open their airway. To do this, place one hand on their forehead and very gently tilt their head back. With your other hand, use your fingertip and gently lift the chin 
  • Give five initial puffs. Take a breath and put your mouth around the baby’s mouth and nose to make a seal and blow gently and steadily for up to one second. The chest should rise. Remove your mouth and watch the chest fall. That’s one rescue breath, or puff. Do this five times. If their chest doesn't rise, check the airway is open. 
  • Give 30 pumps. To do this, put two fingers in the centre of the baby’s chest and push down a third of the depth of the chest. Release the pressure allowing the chest to come back up. Repeat this 30 times at a rate of 100 to 120 pumps per minute. The beat of the song ‘Nellie the Elephant’ can help you keep the right rate. 
  • Open the airway and give two more puffs. Continue alternating between 30 pumps and two breaths until emergency help arrives and takes over or the baby starts showing signs of life and starts to breathe normally.  
  • If the baby shows signs of becoming responsive, such as coughing, opening their eyes, making a noise, or starts to breathe normally, put them in the recovery position. Monitor their level of response and prepare to give CPR again if necessary. 
  • Child (over one year old) 

    What to look for: 

    • The child isn’t responding 
    • The child isn’t breathing normally 

    How to give CPR to a child: 

  • Open their airway. Do this by placing on hand on their forehead to tilt their head back and use two fingers from the other hand to gently lift their chin. 
  • Give five rescue breaths. Blow into their mouth gently and steadily for up to one second until the chest rises 
  • Give 30 chest compressions. Put your hand in the centre of the child’s chest and push down a third of the depth of the chest. Release to allow the chest to rise again. Repeat 30 times at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute.  
  • Open the airway and give two more breaths
    Continue alternating between 30 chest compressions and two breaths until
    emergency help arrives and takes over the child starts showing signs of life and starts to breathe normally or a defibrillator is ready to be used 
  • Use the defibrillator
    If the helper returns with a defibrillator, ask them to switch it on and follow the voice prompts while you continue CPR.  
  • If the child starts becoming responsive such as coughing, opening eyes and starts to breathe normally, put them in the recovery position and monitor their level of response. 
  • In children cardiac arrest is likely to be due to a respiratory cause and so rescue breaths can be critical. 

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    Doing rescue breaths may increase the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus but it is very likely the child will be known to you.

    However, this risk is small compared to the risk of taking no action as this will result in certain cardiac arrest and the death of the child.

    Want to learn life-saving skills? Click here to book a first aid course, join one of St John’s youth programmes (for ages 5 to 25) or become a first aid volunteer.

    St John’s training will give you essential lifesaving skills and the confidence to use them, and includes mental health first aid and wellbeing courses.

    St John is a charity and needs donations to help train and equip its volunteers, to save more lives. Donate at and follow them using #AskMe

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    Police Pension Error Means a $75,000 Repayment to Pennsylvania

    by Anthony Hennen

    City pension rules and details can make for dull reading, but a recent auditor general’s report shows the costs of a mistake.

    A compliance audit of the Waynesburg Borough Police Pension Plan form, in southwest Pennsylvania, that covered 2017-21 noted that an error led to a $75,000 overpayment, which must be repaid to the state with interest.

    Waynesburg’s police pension is small: it has only eight active members, one terminated member who is eligible for future benefits, and five retirees receiving benefits.

    A previous audit flagged “inconsistent benefit provisions,” the auditor noted, that weren’t authorized by Act 600, a law governing the police pension. The borough then adopted an ordinance to fix those inconsistencies.

    However, the latest audit noted that three retirees received pension benefits in excess of Act 600. While those benefits could be paid out according to another pension-related law, Act 205, the costs of those benefits would not be eligible for state aid.

    “The borough failed to timely determine the impact of the excess benefits on the municipality’s annual state aid allocation for the years 2020 and 2021 and received excess state aid allocations as a result,” the report noted.

    Previous agreements for non-rank and file officers authorized pension benefits using 75% of a worker’s final average salary, but Act 600 only allowed the benefits to be calculated based on 50% of the final average salary.

    “The impact of the excess benefits on the borough’s state aid allocation for 2020 and 2021 totaled $75,136, which must be returned to the Commonwealth,” the report noted.

    Repaying that allocation can cause some trouble as well.

    “In addition, the borough used the overpayments of state aid to pay the minimum municipal obligations due to the pension plan; therefore, if the reimbursement to the commonwealth is made from the pension plan, the plan’s MMO will not be fully paid,” the report noted.

    “Municipal officials agreed with the finding without exception,” the auditor noted.

    Correcting that error has a big impact: the auditor noted that future state aid allocations may be withheld until officials reimburse the commonwealth.

    Otherwise, Waynesburg’s police pension is in good shape. Its funded percentage was 92.9% in 2017, 94.3% in 2019, and 101.8% in 2021. Its latest actuarial value was $3.2 million, the report noted.

     – – –

    Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.
    Photo “Pennsylvania Capitol” by Tom Wolf. CC BY 2.0.




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