I first trained in basic first aid when I was, I dunno, 16, 17? Subsequently, I spent nine years as a lifeguard, continuing my training and increasing my knowledge of first aid, right up to holding an Occupational First Aid certificate for quite a while. I've held some form of first aid qualification continuosly for about twenty years now.
But in all that time, I never really made use of it. I mean, I patched up scratches and bruises, of course, and once, I had to help someone that scalded their arm with a steam burn, putting water directly onto hot coals. Nothing serious. I've never administered CPR, or had to use an AED in real life. I've never even had to help someone choking.
Until very, very recently.
We had already fed Ada her dinner, but I was eating mine a bit later than her. Usually, we all eat together, but it just didn't work out that evening. Ada eats while sitting in her own chair at the table, so that she gets used to sitting and eating a meaal toggether with us. However, she was finished her meal, so I just sat her on my lap while I was eating, giving her little bits of my meal to try.
Ada only recently started eating solid foods, and has tried a bunch of things, including rice, avocado, chicken, pork, egg, peas and carrots, among a lot of others. The one big dislike so far, in fact, the only dislike so far, is crabmeat from a California roll. Her whole body shudders and she spits it out every time.
I had given her a little chicken, and there was a soft chunk of, I think, pineapple. It was well cooked and very soft and squishy. I picked it up and popped it in her mouth. She chewed on it thoughtfully, and looked up at me. I watched her experience the flavours like only an infant can and went back to eating my own dinner.
Claire asked me something.
I turned away to answer her.
A wheeze. Ada was suddenly waving her arms. I looked down at her and she had a look of panic on her face. Her arms were flapping, and she was making a quiet coughing sound, tears were in her eyes and she was just staring at me.
I picked her up, turned her over, my right hand holding her chin, her body lying along my right arm, her bum higher than her head and gave one slap on the back. She immediately started crying loudly.
I flipped her back around and gave her a big hug. Claire took her and held her close, and within a minute she was calm and happy.
At no point did either of us panic. I don't think my heartrate even changed until after the fact. It certainly helped that I could hear Ada coughing, so I knew that it wasn't a total blockage. It helped that she as already in my arms, not strapped into her highchair. It helped that I knew axactly what was in her mouth moments before, how small and soft it was.
First Aid is an important skill that everyone should have. I honestly think it should be a subject in school, a skill taught to every child, even if just on a basic level.
Almost twenty years of having it and not needing it, but I'm really glad I had it that one moment I did need it.