Premature baby saved thanks to first aid workshop

When a teenage mother unexpectedly went into labour three months prematurely, she had no idea that a chain of events that started months before would make all the difference to the survival of her tiny baby.

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While attending a first aid training course earlier this year, Monica Joubert, manager of the Jan Hofmeyer Community Services (JHCS) feeding programme, had no idea that this knowledge would lead to her saving the life of a precious little baby. “I had done basic first aid training many years ago, but when Netcare offered us a training opportunity I was eager to brush up on my skills. Given that we are involved in providing services to many children and senior citizens, we never know when we may encounter a situation where someone needs first aid,” Monica explains.

Little did Monica know at the time of the training that, life just over a month later, her new skills would enable her to save a fragile young.

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Right time, right place

“One afternoon, a woman who lives near our centre called and asked whether I could assist her friend, who was six months pregnant and had suddenly started experiencing severe pain in her back and lower abdomen,” Monica says.

“We called for an ambulance and I went over to where they live to see how I could assist. However, the young, first-time mother gave birth to the premature baby before the ambulance arrived.

“The baby moved a little after he was born, but then went limp – I knew I had to do something to try to save his life. I checked his airway and performed CPR on him, just the way Rochelle (Rochelle Foster is a part-time first aid instructor and former basic life support medic) had taught us to do CPR on infants. Thankfully, the baby boy started breathing on his own and I could see the colour coming back into his face. I was so grateful to have received the training, and to have been in the right place at the right time to help save his life.”

Mom and baby is doing well

While Monica didn’t cut the umbilical cord or do anything outside of the training she had received, she tried to comfort the mother and baby as best she could. When the ambulance arrived, mom and baby were taken to hospital, and are reportedly both doing well. The mother has asked for her privacy to be respected and does not wish to be named in the media.

The importance of first aid training

Rochelle Foster, who is passionate about teaching basic first aid skills, was previously a basic life support paramedic based at Netcare Linksfield Hospital. She is now practice manager for a doctor at Netcare Garden City Hospital.

“In the training we teach the different techniques for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation [CPR] on adults, children and infants respectively. I am so pleased that the training gave Monica the confidence to put her first aid skills into practice and she was able to save a life.

“I would encourage everyone to learn the basics of first aid, and to refresh their skills from time to time. You never know when you may need to use the knowledge and skill you’ve learned to save a life, or keep someone alive until professional medical assistance arrives.”

The Jan Hofmeyer Community Services Centre is part of a CSI project of Netcare’s Gauteng South West regional office.

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