We saved our son’s life

Monday 16th September

When Charlie Blackett and husband Justin met on a St John Ambulance course, they learnt the skills that would bring their baby back to life.

Charlie Blackett is no stranger to bandages, slings and defibrillators. “My dad, my granddad and my brother were all in St John Ambulance, and I wanted follow,” she explains. “I joined the Chipping Sodbury and Yate division when I was six, the Badgers first, then the Cadets when I was ten. I’ve attended big events, have camped in the Malaysian rainforest and have been to Buckingham Palace and met Princess Anne.”

Her life-saving credentials were put to the test when son Finley was just six weeks old. “We were at home, sitting on the sofa with our two-year-old daughter, Harriet, and Finley was in Justin’s arms,” she recalls. “Suddenly we noticed that Finley had gone blue and limp. We started trying to wake him up, but soon realised it was much more serious. He wasn’t breathing.”

Justin started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while Charlie called the ambulance. “It didn’t take very long for us to get Finley back – by the time the ambulance arrived he was fully conscious and looking around as if to say ‘What happened?’ It was such a relief. It can’t have taken more than ten minutes for the ambulance to get here, but it felt like a lifetime.”

Staff at the hospital checked Finley over and said the problem was caused by reflux. Milk had come up from his stomach and into his throat – and it was most probably a one-off. “So I couldn’t believe it when it happened again,” says Charlie. “I was at home with both the children that time and had to resuscitate him while talking to the ambulance service on speaker-phone. Then it happened a third time, while Justin was alone with him.”

Finley’s reflux is under control now, thanks to medication, but these memories will stay with his parents for ever. “Now he’s a normal, fit, healthy two-year-old,” says his mum. “If we hadn’t been able to breathe for him when he wasn’t breathing, who knows what brain damage could have happened through lack of oxygen?”

As a first-aid trainer, Charlie Blackett is passing on her knowledge to the next generation of young people. “When Finley stopped breathing I was so thankful for all those years of learning and practice.

To have a skill that can save a life, something that can make the difference between life and death, I’m forever
grateful that I know first aid.”

Be the difference

By taking a life-saving course, as the 40,000 St John Ambulance staff and members now eligible to join Benenden Healthcare Society have done, you too could be the difference between a life lost and a life saved. St John Ambulance runs courses in the workplace and for members of the public. Call 08700 104950 or visit the website for details. To receive a free first-aid pocket guide, text LIFE to 85010 or go to www.sja.org.uk

Note: Original source was benhealth issue 17.

Ends

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