Minutes matter if a child is choking, campaign warns

Joanne and Dan Thompson with their daughter Millie who died as a result of choking while being fed shepherd's pie by a supervisor at a nursery in October 2012.

A British couple whose baby girl choked to death in a nursery have brought their first-aid campaign to Ireland.

Joanne and Dan Thompson have met Minister for Children James Reilly to highlight the need for better training for childcare staff.

They are also assisting parliamentary efforts by Independent TD Denis Naughten to strengthen the law here to ensure that all childcare staff have appropriate training to deal with a life threatening incident such as choking.

Following the disclosure that the Irish ambulance service responds to 17 emergency choking incidents every week, Deputy Naughten said it was essential that new rules be introduced.

“In the case of choking, minutes can be the difference between life and death, and it is not possible for any ambulance service to be there in time for each such emergency,” said Mr Naughten, TD for Roscommon-South Leitrim.

“Incidents relating to choking are quite frequent in children, and toddlers in particular, when they are learning to eat and who are likely to put anything that they can lay their hands on into their mouths.

“However, surprisingly, both here in Ireland and in the UK, the law only requires that one person on a childcare premises be trained in paediatric first aid: a fact that will shock many parents and grandparents of young children alike.”

Continuing his point on staff training, Mr Naughten said: “While there are many people employed in this area that are undoubtedly trained specifically in first aid for children, the fact remains that any crèche etc is only required by law to have one person on the premises with such training.”

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs is drafting new childcare regulations to give effect to legislation to strengthen the current inspection regime.

Deputy Naughten said that Mr Reilly has responded positively to his proposal that all staff working directly with young children be trained in paediatric first-aid: “Last December, I took the unusual step of opening up my constituency offices to host such courses for parents. I could have filled each place three times.”

The course was run by Millie’s Trust, the charity set up by the Thompson couple. It gave first-aid training for both parents and politicians in the Dáil.

Joanne and Dan’s daughter Millie died in October 2012 aged nine months following a choking incident that occurred while she was in a nursery in the UK.

To find out more about Millie’s Trust log on to www.milliestrust.com or www.facebook.com/milliestrust . Parents can also access information on what to do if your baby starts to choke by logging on to http://www.milliestrust.com/first-aid-tips/choking-baby.


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