Mum urges awareness of choking hazards and first aid

Martina Cullen pictured with her little girl, Sophie and Shaun Browne, Brownes Autos, the main sponsor of the Bump and Baby Expo.
Martina Cullen pictured with her little girl, Sophie and Shaun Browne, Brownes Autos, the main sponsor of the Bump and Baby Expo.

A local mum has stressed the benefit of learning first aid after ‘one of the scariest moments of her life’ occurred when her little girl began choking.

A child choking is among every parent’s greatest fears and one which was shockingly real for Martina Cullen, the Donegal mum behind this weekend’s Bump and Baby Expo in Letterkenny.

The traumatic incident involving her first child, at the age of just 10 months, left Martina regretting that she’d never learned how to respond to such a life-threatening situation.

When she set about organising a two-day baby show featuring the latest products, service and expert advice for parents, top of her list was the provision of expert advice on child choking and first aid.“There were so many things I hadn’t a clue about as a first time parent but in hindsight child first aid is vitally important.

“To see your baby choking is a horrific experience. Our little girl was playing on a mat when all of a sudden she went quiet. My husband lifted her up and saw she was in distress – unable to breath, gasping to get air.

“In that moment we both realised that we didn’t know what to do. We tried slapping her gently on the back but didn’t want to hurt her, we tried looking in her mouth but nothing was visible. We had no idea what she had swallowed.

“She was turning blue. Within 30 seconds we were in the car and on the way to the hospital which was only a few minutes from the house. My husband kept tapping her on the back the whole way. It wasn’t until we were pulling into the hospital grounds that she finally vomited and started to breathe once again. Words can’t describe the relief as we pulled into A&E and she was smiling as though completely unaware of the danger.

“We were lucky, sadly it can be a different story for other families. That’s why two of our key talks during the Bump and Baby Expo Letterkenny in the Radisson Blu Hotel on Saturday and Sunday will be delivered by First Aid Aware on ‘What to do when a child is choking’ and ‘Choking hazards and what to look out for’.”

First Aid Aware Paediatric Instructor Niall Clancy said families should be aware of the dangers to infants and young children to be best placed to deal with situations.

“Choking is one of the main causes of cardiac arrest in children so it’s very important for parents and anyone responsible for children to know how to react. We’re delighted to be taking part in the Bump and Baby Expo Letterkenny where we’ll be giving people a chance to learn about what to do when a child is choking and allowing them to practice the techniques on mannequins. We’ll also be advising people on what dangers to look out for and explaining that if an item can fit through the inside of a toilet toll then it may represent a choking hazard,” he said. In establishing Bump and Baby Expo, Martina aimed to give parents “information that really matters” all under one roof.

The career mum - who co-founded human resources and employment law consultancy, HR Team while pregnant with her second child and following a successful career as operations manager for a multinational retailer – said the event will be highly informative in everything needed from pregnancy to pre-school.

“I have two bouncing baby girls aged one and three and - as anyone with young children will tell you - it can be hard to keep up with the latest information on products, child safety and health matters for mums and babies.

“The whole idea behind the Bump and Baby Expo is to provide expert advice, the best products and most beneficial services needed by families with babies and young children.

For further information on Bump and Baby Expo log on to www.bumpandbabyexpo.com or Facebook.