Common Paediatric Emergencies and How to Respond Effectively

Paediatric First Aid

Paediatric emergencies can be stressful and frightening for parents and caregivers. Accidents and sudden illnesses can happen unexpectedly, and knowing how to respond promptly and effectively is crucial. Proper preparation and understanding of paediatric first aid protocols can significantly alleviate anxiety and ensure the best possible outcome for the child. In this blog post, we will explore some common paediatric emergencies and provide guidance on how to respond in a way that ensures the safety and well-being of the child.

1. Choking

Choking is a frequent occurrence in young children who may not fully understand the dangers of putting objects in their mouths. If a child is choking, it is essential to act swiftly. Begin by encouraging the child to cough, as coughing is a natural reflex to clearing the airway. If coughing does not work, perform up to 5 back blows and if not dislodged, give up to 5 chest thrusts (for infants under 1 years old) or abdominal thrusts (children above 1 years old), then revert back to back blows if the item is still lodged. Seek emergency medical assistance if the obstruction persists and prepare to carry out CPR if the infant/child becomes unconscious and stops breathing.

2. Falls

Falls are a common cause of injuries in children, especially in toddlers and young children who are still developing their motor skills. In the event of a fall, assess the child for any signs of serious injury. If there are concerns about a head injury, loss of consciousness, or unusual behaviour, seek medical attention immediately. Otherwise, comfort the child, apply ice to any bumps or bruises for ten minutes, and keep a close eye on them for any changes in behaviour.

3. Burns

Burns can occur from hot surfaces, liquids, or even sun exposure. In the case of a burn, immediately cool the affected area under running water for at least 10 minutes or apply a burn bandage. Remove any tight clothing or accessories near the burn site as long as the skin is not being pulled off and cover the burn with a clean, non-stick dressing. Seek medical attention for any burn on babies and children, regardless of the level of severity.

4. Seizures

Witnessing a child having a seizure can be distressing, but it is crucial to stay calm. Ensure the safety of the child by moving any nearby objects that could cause harm and get something soft under the head to prevent a head injury. Place the child on their side to allow fluids to drain from the mouth and do not attempt to restrain their movements. Time the duration of the seizure and seek medical attention if it lasts longer than five minutes or if another seizure follows immediately or if this is the first seizure experienced by the child.

5. Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe and may include symptoms like hives, swelling, difficulty breathing and circulatory failure. If a child shows signs of an allergic reaction, administer any prescribed adrenaline immediately if available via the child’s EpiPen. Call emergency services and inform them of the situation. Keep the child calm and monitor their vital signs until medical help arrives or be prepared to resuscitate if the child becomes unconscious and stops breathing.

6. Poisoning

Children are naturally curious, and accidental poisoning can occur when they ingest harmful substances. If poisoning is suspected, contact 999 immediately. Keep any containers, plants, or chemicals away from the child’s reach, and take note of any substances they may have ingested. Encourage the child to take small, frequent sips of milk or water. Be prepared to resuscitate if the child becomes unconscious and stops breathing.

7. Breathing Difficulties

Respiratory issues can be caused by various factors, including asthma, infections, or foreign body aspiration. If a child is experiencing breathing difficulties, help them sit in a comfortable upright position and administer any prescribed inhalers or medications. If the issue persists or worsens, seek medical attention promptly.

Looking for Paediatric First Aid Courses?

At Catapult Services, we offer the comprehensive QA Level 3 Award in Paediatric First Aid, a two-day course with an e-certificate which is valid for three years. This training aligns with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Statutory Framework, mandatory for early years providers in England. It caters to childcare professionals, registered childminders, parents, and others with non-professional involvement in childcare.

The course covers crucial topics like CPR, choking, fractures, allergic reactions, and various paediatric emergencies. It fulfils EYFS requirements and is fully recognised by OFSTED.

As an independent training and medical services organisation, we pass on our real-life clinical experiences to enhance our learners’ knowledge, which includes NHS frontline ambulance work. Based in Hertfordshire, we offer medical event cover and various training courses, reinforcing our commitment to quality education and practical application in the field of first aid and healthcare.

Any questions? Call us today on 0203 384 7876 or email us at to speak with a member of our team.