When a teenage mother unexpectedly went into labour - three months prematurely - she had no idea that a chain of events that started months before would make all the difference to the survival of her tiny baby.
And neither did Monica Joubert, manager of the Jan Hofmeyer Community Services (JHCS) Centre feeding programme, but just a few months earlier she had taken part in a basic first aid workshop for JHCS staff and volunteers.
"Years before I had done basic first aid training, and I was very eager to brush up on my skills when Netcare kindly offered us the training opportunity," Joubert says, "Given that we are involved in providing services to many children and senior citizens, we never know when we might encounter a situation where someone needs first aid."
So when a call for help came in, she knew exactly what to do.
"One afternoon, a woman who lives near our centre called and asked me whether I could assist her friend, who was six months pregnant and had suddenly started experiencing severe pain in her back and lower abdomen," Joubert says.
She called for an ambulance and went over to where they lived to see how she could assist, she says, but the young, first-time mother gave birth to the premature baby before the ambulance arrived and was in complete shock, shivering and not knowing what to do.
"The tiny baby moved a little after he was born but then went limp, and I knew I had to do something to try to save his life," Joubert describes.
She tells how she checked the baby's airway and performed CPR on him, just the way she had been taught to do CPR on infants.
"Thankfully, the baby boy started breathing on his own and I could see the colour coming back into his little face," she says, "I was so grateful to have received the training, and to have been in the right place at the right time to help save his life.”
Read more here: Mom of five shares open letter: Dear NICU nurse
Joubert says that she did not cut the umbilical cord or do anything outside of the training she had received, but tried to comfort the mother and baby as best she could.
When the ambulance arrived, the mother and baby were taken to hospital, and are reportedly both doing well. The mother has asked for her privacy to be respected and does not wish to be named in the media.
Sandile Mbele, Netcare’s regional director, explained how Netcare’s Gauteng South West regional office took the Jan Hofmeyer Community Services Centre under their wing as a CSI outreach project in 2018.
Since then, staff members have made donations and volunteered their time to support the work of this non-profit organisation that does much good in the community," he said.
Jan Hofmeyer Community Services (JHCS) provides a childcare and feeding programme, as well as assistance for the elderly and destitute unemployed individuals of the Jan Hofmeyer, Vredepark and Vrededorp communities in Johannesburg.
Also read: PICS: Local baby weighs almost 6kg at birth
The First Aid training itself was provided on a voluntary basis by Rochelle Foster, a part-time first aid instructor and former basic life support medic.
Foster, who is passionate about teaching basic first aid skills, was previously a basic life support paramedic based at Netcare Links field Hospital and is now practice manager for a doctor at Netcare Garden City Hospital.
She explains how they teach the different techniques for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation [CPR] on adults, children and infants respectively.
"I am so pleased that the training gave Monica the confidence to put her first aid skills into practice and she was able to save a life," Foster says, "and I would encourage everyone to learn the basics of first aid, and to refresh their skills from time to time.
"You never know when you may need to use the knowledge and skill to save a life or keep someone alive until professional medical assistance arrives," she says.
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Issued by Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare for Parent24
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