How to Apply First Aid and CPR to Children with Special Needs?

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Accidents happen, especially when children are involved. Children are not always aware of the consequences of their actions and therefore are more likely to be accidentally injured than adults are. Children with special needs are especially prone to accidental injury as they often have less control of their bodies than developing children. When it comes to keeping children safe from injury or illness, their caregivers, teachers, coaches, and other adults are responsible for their well-being. For children with special needs, the importance of having clear advocates for their physical health becomes even more pronounced when they cannot do it themselves.

Children with special needs fall onto a spectrum of required care, from those who need very little assistance to those who need much more support. Children with special needs like Autism, Down syndrome, and ADHD, face several significant challenges in operating on a typical day, let alone in an emergency medical situation. Communication, self-regulation, and primary care can be challenging for these children on any given day. When extenuating circumstances arise, it’s too easy for their physical health to suffer and their unique needs to fall between the cracks.

Why First Aid Training Matters in Child with Special Needs?

Specialized First Aid and with special needs so the adults providing care can take all the steps required to ensure their safety. In an emergency, an adult care provider must be able to assess the situation quickly, determine what special needs a child has, and deliver the appropriate response and medical care. When a child is seriously injured, they may not be able to communicate the problem to their caregiver, especially in situations where they do not speak or communicate the way a typically developing child would. In these cases, it’s imperative to have other systems operating to protect the child from further harm and to enable their recovery.

children with special needs

Need of Basic First Aid To a Child:

The most important thing for caregivers or bystanders to do in an emergency is to remain calm. There are three key objectives when administering first aid to a child:

  • Preserve life by stopping bleeding.
  • Prevent further harm by not moving a child after a fall to prevent spinal injury or elevating the head of an unconscious child.
  • Focus on recovery by preventing shock with comforting words or providing blankets.

Learn about- Basic First Aid Online Training Classes.  

What are the Most Common Injuries in Children?

The most common types of injuries in children are burns, broken bones, head injuries from a significant fall, drowning, suffocation, and car-related injuries. These are treatable with first aid and CPR until emergency medical care can arrive.

First, healthcare professionals must calmly assess the situation to determine the scope of the injury. Then, caregivers should ensure that the area is safe and relocate the child to a more secure environment where appropriate, provide first aid and seek further medical attention, either by calling 911 or driving the child to the nearest emergency care unit. A well-stocked first-aid kit can help in responding effectively to common injuries and emergencies.

Standard first aid measures include:

  • Stopping bleeding by applying clean bandages and pressure to a wound.
  • Temporarily immobilizing broken limbs where possible.
  • Using cold water for minor burns.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment and a bandage that will not stick to the wound.

Anything beyond these measures requires CPR and emergency medical care by dialing 911.

When is CPR Needed?

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is needed when a child’s heart has stopped and when they are unconscious and not breathing. CPR is vital in saving lives in the event of a cardiac arrest. When the heart stops, it no longer pumps blood to the body’s major organs. Blood contains the oxygen these organs need to survive.

Without oxygen, severe damage to the organs, including the brain, can occur within 4 minutes, and a victim can die within 8 minutes, making it imperative for bystanders to perform CPR on child, as soon as possible. Rescue breathing also supplies vital oxygen to the brain and heart when a child has stopped breathing after an injury such as a suffocation or a water-related accident.

Also Read- When To Perform CPR: 6 Situations When CPR is Needed

How to Perform CPR on Children with Special Needs?

Before beginning CPR, if two caregivers are present, one should call 911, and the other should check the child for responsiveness, breathing, and a pulse. If only one caregiver is present, they should begin by performing five cycles of CPR chest compressions and rescue breathing before pausing the call 911.

If an unresponsive child is breathing but does not have a pulse, then hands-only CPR should be performed. If the child is unresponsive, does not have a pulse, and is not breathing, the rescuer should administer CPR with rescue breathing.

The key steps for each type of CPR are as follows:

Hands-only CPR:

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that anyone who has not received CPR certification should perform hands-only CPR. This method can be used when no pulse is detected but the victim is still breathing.

To administer hands-only CPR to a child, the rescuer will kneel above the child, place their hands on top of one another in the center of the victim’s chest, and deliver rapid chest compressions. If the child is tiny, one hand may be used. The rescuer should compress the chest to a depth of about 1/3 of the total depth of the chest, which will be approximately 1.5 to 2 inches. Healthcare professionals should deliver compressions at a rate of 2 per second or 120 compressions per minute.

Know about the- Compression Rate for CPR Adults, Children, and Infants.  

infant rescue breathing

CPR with Rescue Breathing:

Caregivers should check an unresponsive child for signs of breathing by taking no more than 10 seconds to listen for breath sounds and watch for the rise and fall of the chest. If the child is not breathing normally, caregivers must perform rescue breathing and chest compressions.

Healthcare professionals will begin by delivering 15 chest compressions, followed by two rescue breaths. To perform rescue breathing:

  • Caregivers will open the child’s airway by tilting the head back and the chin upwards and removing any visible objects in the mouth.
  • The rescuer will then place their mouth over the child’s mouth so that it forms a seal.
  • They will perform 1 – 2 rescue breaths, about 1 second long each.
  • Pause after the first breath to see if the victim’s chest rises. If so, rescue breathing can stop.
  • If the chest does not rise, deliver the second rescue breath.
  • The ratio of 15:2 compressions to rescue breaths should continue until emergency medical arrives or until an automated external defibrillator (AED) is located and ready for use.
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Additional Measures for Children with Special Needs:

To ensure the complete care for children with special needs, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) created an Emergency Information Form for Children with Special Health Care Needs. This form allows parents, alongside their children’s physician, to provide details on their child’s medical history, allergies, mental disabilities, and any specific interventions they wish to take place in an emergency. The form may be given to emergency staff, or the information can be registered so that it’s readily available for emergency care personnel.

When a child cannot communicate, either due to a mental condition such as autism or because they are unconscious, this form will give emergency care providers their complete medical history and specific instructions for their treatment.

Parents may also wish to share a copy of their child’s form with teachers, coaches, and school caregiving aids to assist the child properly in an emergency at school or in a care center. In addition, when teachers are made aware of a child’s special health care needs, they can formulate an emergency care action plan ahead of time, so they can take immediate action when required.

Read The Free- Study Guide for First Aid Class.  

Importance of First Aid and CPR Certification for Babysitters:

Teachers, coaches, and babysitters of children with special needs are encouraged to become certified in first aid and CPR to master the techniques required to treat injuries and save lives when necessary. Having a child’s medical history and detailed information is the first step in providing the proper care in a medical emergency, but complete training and certification are even more critical when caring for children with special needs.

CPR certification will teach healthcare professionals standard lifesaving skills and specific guidelines for treating children. Given that children with special needs cannot advocate for themselves, teachers and caregivers are responsible for providing the best quality of care possible, including emergency preparedness. Formal certification will be the only way to ensure that caregivers have the needed expertise.

How to Get First Aid and CPR Certification?

First aid and CPR certification are easily obtained online from the convenience and comfort of the home or workplace. Online training is advantageous for busy teachers and caregivers who can complete the training on schedule. Organizations like CPR Select offer CPR and First Aid Certification Online that can give healthcare professionals with special needs the education and qualifications they need. Written by AHA-trained physicians, the courses comply with all AHA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.

Also Read- Why Choose CPR Select for your Training?

Enroll Now for Online First Aid Training & Certification Classes at just $19.95.  

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