Edinburgh MSP plans pop-up lifesaver classes after daughter choked on coin

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has told how he saved his four-year-old daughter from choking to death on a coin, after "muscle memory" kicked in from a first aid course he took 25 years ago.
Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has told how he saved his four-year-old daughter from choking to death on a coin, after "muscle memory" kicked in from a first aid course he took 25 years ago.
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AN MSP who saved his four-year-old daughter from choking on a coin is to launch a series of emergency first aid classes to help equip people to save lives.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh Western, told earlier this week how little Darcy stopped breathing after she partially swallowed a Euro 50c piece. on Saturday night.

He turned her upside down and slapped her back until she was sick, then she was rushed to hospital by ambulance, where the coin was removed under general anaesthetic.

But Mr Cole-Hamilton - who is Lib Dem health spokesman at Holyrood - said he only knew what to do because of “half-remembered” lessons from a first aid course he did more than 25 years ago.

Now he wants to encourage other people whose knowledge of first aid is equally rusty to update their skills so they are ready to act if needed.

He said after he posted dramatic pictures on social media of Darcy’s X-ray and the coin she had swallowed, he had been shocked at the number of parents who contacted him saying they would not have known what to do.

He said: “I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the public response. Some people were saying they had not done first aid for a while and now planned to go on a refresher.

“And lots of people just said they would not know what to do in such a situation but really wanted to know.

“So I’m teaming up with local volunteer group Corstorphine Emergency Response and we’re going to have pop-up training events in West Edinburgh.

“It won’t be a full-blown first-aid course, but something to teach people the basics of immediate care for someone in crisis.”

He said around 30 people at a time could be trained, but they would have to book a place. He said he was trying to establish the level of demand for the sessions before finalising how many there would be and where they would be held.

“I think it will cover choking, keeping someone alive after a heart attack, resuscitation and stopping bleeding.”

He said Darcy was fully recovered from the weekend scare.

“I feel very blessed and relieved that things ended the way they did.

“I didn’t hesitate. The ambulance guys, the people on the phone said had I not done that [turned her upside down] things could’ve been very, very different.”

“It was muscle memory. At the time it wasn’t scary at all, it was just a laser-beam focus, I knew ‘I have to do this, this is the most important thing right now’.

“I’m really keen to get the message out to other parents that you can do that, you can intervene, you can be that first responder.”

He said he had been greatly touched by the responses he had received over the incident.

“I want to use that goodwill and attention to raise awareness and get people trained in the basics so they know what to do.

“I’m also planning to write to other MSPs suggesting it would be a good idea for them to do the same.”