When Gemma’s two-year-old daughter was choking on a plastic brick, she knew what to do and acted quickly. Here, Gemma recalls what happened, and how a video she’d seen on Facebook helped her save her daughter.

Choking is very common with young children and is a frightening thing for any parent to have to face. But if it should happen, knowing the simple skills to help can make all the difference.

When my two-year-old daughter, Seven, started choking, I remembered a British Red Cross first aid video that I’d recently watched on Facebook and immediately knew what to do.

It was a normal morning and I was at home with my five children.

Suddenly, my eldest daughter, Boo, shouted upstairs that her little sister, Seven, was choking.

I rushed downstairs and when I got halfway down, I saw Seven and could see that she wasn’t breathing.

Her eyes were out like dinner plates, her chest wasn’t moving and she wasn’t making any noise at all.

I suppose I always thought that when someone was choking it would be noisy, but she was just silent.

Back blows for choking

I remembered a British Red Cross first aid video I’d seen on Facebook, showing what to do if a little one is choking.

It just sort of kicked in. I leaned Seven over my arm and started hitting her on the back, between her shoulder blades.

My heart was in my mouth, but I was trying to keep calm because the other four children were watching. Boo was crying because I think she thought I was hurting her sister.

After a few back blows, Seven still wasn’t breathing and had started to turn blue. I phoned 999. I continued to give Seven back blows while speaking to the operator.

The 999 operator told me that I was doing exactly the right thing and to continue with what I was doing.

After a few more back blows, Seven coughed up a plastic toy brick and started breathing again.

The British Red Cross first aid video gave me the knowledge and confidence to help save my daughter’s life.

When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics checked Seven over and said they wanted to take her to hospital for a full check up by the doctors.

Once they’d examined her in A&E, they said she was absolutely fine and a very lucky little girl.

The doctor told me that if I hadn’t acted so quickly and if I hadn’t known what to do, I wouldn’t have been taking her home that day.

That’s when it hit me. If I hadn’t watched that video, my daughter would have died.

Gemma stands in her garden, holding Seven who she saved from choking, and with her arm around her other daughter, Boo.

Gemma, Seven and Boo, © Percy Dean/British Red Cross

It’s silly, I’ve always seen those videos come up and thought, ‘I’m not watching them, because if I know what to do, I’m tempting fate’. How silly is that?

Seven had a sore throat for a few days but was soon back to her old self.

I’m always telling her not to put things in her mouth, so I think she was a little bit sheepish because she expected to get in trouble for it. But I was just so thankful that she was alive.

All she wanted to eat that day was ‘pink ice cream’ and she was allowed!

Boo was more upset than anyone. She and Seven share a room and I kept finding her in Seven’s bed that night. She just kept hugging and kissing her.

I phoned my husband immediately afterwards and just burst into tears. I was just so relieved that Seven was OK.

Learning skills from the British Red Cross videos

I think the videos are a brilliant way of showing people what to do in an emergency.

Since what happened with Seven, I’ve watched all of them!

If I hadn’t watched the video and known what to do when Seven was choking, my little girl wouldn’t be here now.

Watch how to help if a child (over the age of one) is choking.