Te Puke mum saves baby’s life

A Te Puke mother-of-two who rushed to helped an infant who was struggling to breathe while dining at a Tauranga restaurant did so just a week after completing a Red Cross First Aid course.

And ahead of International Federation of Red Cross World First Aid Day on September 12, Cassandra, known as Sandy, shared her heroic story with SunLive.

Sandy Lyons-Birley. Photo: Supplied.

Sandy was enjoying a meal out with family on July 11 when an unexpected emergency unfolded right in front of her as she popped to the lady’s room.

Making her way back out to pay the bill, Sandy was motioned towards another restaurant table where a baby, believed to be about 10-months-old, was struggling to breathe and quickly becoming unresponsive.

“His immediate family were standing around the baby clearly in a panic,” says Sandy. “The dad was holding the baby trying to get a response by blowing on his cheeks.

“The restaurant was really full, and it was a normal busy atmosphere, but people just didn’t know what to do.

“The restaurant staff had been asking patrons if there was a doctor in the room because there was a baby in trouble.”

Fortunately, having completed her first aid course on July 4-5, Sandy knew exactly what to do.

“I just thought ‘here we go, here’s a situation. I’m in there’,” says Sandy.

A petite woman, Sandy squeezed her way through the crowd and announced she was trained in first aid and could help.

“The baby’s dad was so hysterical that he was understandably not going to give the baby up, but he did once his family encouraged him to hand him over,” says Sandy, who immediately sent someone to call for an ambulance.

“I held the baby and noticed he was making short but very unsuccessful attempts at breathing. He was floppy, his eyes shut and he was getting quieter.”

Sandy explained to the family she would attempt five thumps on the baby’s back to clear the airway.

“I put the baby in the correct position and counted aloud as I did the thumps,” she says, “and on the fifth attempt the baby made a retching sound and started to cry loudly.

“I then checked his mouth and put him the recovery position on my leg. The baby was still crying and everyone said ‘good boy’.

“I handed him back to the dad and he gave me a massive cuddle and was sobbing in relief.

“The baby’s aunty came and saw me afterwards and thanked me personally once the baby had gone into the ambulance.”

As a playcentre mother, Sandy says part of playcentre training is to have their First Aid Certificate, which she is thankful for.

Along with her certificate, Sandy has worked with people with disabilities, has a background in health science and has worked as a nanny.

“I’m a mum,” she adds, “so I know how frightening it is to have a baby choke and I think all of that came into play as well as having the awesome Red Cross training.

“I think that helped me in that particular situation in dealing with an infant.

“If I didn’t have the training I would have still had a go at it, but I probably wouldn’t have been nearly as organised or prepared.

“I was able to put myself out there and have a go because of the Red Cross First Aid training.”

Sandy encourages all workplaces, mothers and the wider community to complete their first aid training.

“My response was automatic and I was confident to try because I could draw on my previous weekend’s training,” she says.

“As I did my hero walk back to the table I smiled and said aloud ‘and that is why everyone should do first aid training’.”

For more information about Red Cross First Aid courses, click here.

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Posted on 16-09-2015 14:06 | By starbright9

Good on ya Sandy, quietly competent as always. A great girl to have on your team, through thick and thin :))

Importance of first aid

Posted on 14-09-2015 09:21 | By Cornelious


Wonderful lady!

Posted on 12-09-2015 07:21 | By monty1212

Well done Sandy, you very probably saved that baby’s life!