CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, which is a medical term that means heart (cardio) lung (pulmonary) revive to life (resuscitation).
As a teacher I was expected to keep up my certification in CPR and first aid, which I did. When I had my own children and decided to stay at home I did not re-certify. It was not expected of me and it was difficult to find a class where we were located at the time.
And then the day came.
We were in Germany packing to return to Asia. My husband was out with our son buying new shoes before we left. I was with the two girls squeezing the last of the necessities in the last suitcase. The youngest was taking a nap. Jie Jie, the non-verbal special needs child, was playing with toys in the playroom. Before I knew it though, she had slipped out of the playroom into the kitchen. When I found her she was bent over with drool dripping to the floor. She looked up at me with wide eyes and fear. She was choking.
My heart stopped. I yelled for my mother-in-law. She didn’t hear me.
I was alone. Bits and pieces from that CPR/First Aid class came to my mind.
I began the Heimlich. A few seconds later, which seemed to be minutes, out popped a blue plastic object covered in saliva. And then the greatest sound, a cry.
She was breathing again. We sat there on the floor crying together. I knew right then that I needed to get re-certified. Not because certification would give me permission or status, but because I needed to refresh my memory. It had been too long and I felt I had forgotten too much.
Just this week we had another experience with choking due to eating issues. My heart jumped, but because I just re-certified a few months ago it didn’t stop completely. I knew what to do.
It made me think, though. Are you certified? If not, why? Here’s why I think you should be, especially if you are an expat-parent.
1. Alone. You could be the only person with your child when that time comes. Husbands travel, housekeepers have days off, and neighbors vacation. Knowing these simple skills can really save your child. Another tip: Have a SOS number of a friend who speaks the language who you can call if more assistance is needed.
2. Language. The emergency operator may not speak English. Having a little CPR and first aid training can give you a head start on saving your child. Use that SOS number of a friend who does speak the language. Have them call while you are administrating CPR/first aid.
3. Time. In cases of choking, you don’t have time to call for help. Knowing what to do can help reduce further injury from pushing in the wrong spot.
I hope that you never have to administer CPR/Heimlich, but if you should one day, I do hope that you have taken a class. I’m so thankful that I was able to get re-certified here in my city. I highly encourage each of you to find a class, whether in the city you live or when you go back to your home country. It is something you won’t regret.