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First aid training a lifesaver

Written by Margot Taylor
on December 04, 2020

When every parent’s worst nightmare became a terrifying reality for Dennis Frazer, life-saving skills gained at a first aid course organised by Ryman Healthcare kicked into gear.

The Nellie Melba Retirement Village construction site gatekeeper is overcome by emotion when he recalls how among the panic that set in when he saw his 19-month-old son Zedden blue and gasping for air, so too did his first aid training.

“I’ve completed quite a few first aid courses over the years, and most recently I did one with Ryman last year after a 10-year gap,” he said.


"It wasn't a normal night, we had just moved into our new house and we had a late dinner, and Zedden had just gone to bed after having a bottle and I suddenly heard my wife and mother-in-law screaming.

"I ran in and I grabbed him and seeing his face staring at me like a little fish trying to get the air, that was really awful, but all of the training came back to me.”

With assistance from a St John call-taker Dennis desperately worked to dislodge something blocking Zedden’s airway by performing back blows and chest thrusts on his son until the fire brigade, followed by paramedics, took over.

While Zedden recovered well following a short hospital stay, the trauma of the incident and the absolute necessity to have first aid training will stay with Dennis and his family forever.

“I’m just so grateful to have been offered that most recent training, and to the brilliant paramedics and fire brigade because it saved his little life.

“I break down just thinking about it still.”

Having become a father for the first time to Zedden when he was 59-years-old, Dennis said conversations with Nellie Melba Construction site nurse Lachlan about how to keep young children safe also helped him during the emergency.

“There are a bunch of guys in the team with young kids, and I was literally talking to Lachlan two weeks before this happened about safety things.

“It’s brilliant that we’ve got this training and a full-time nurse available to learn from, it’s saved a life.”


Dennis recounts the frightening ordeal.

Nellie Melba construction site health and safety advisor Frank Ryan said the frightening incident was a reminder of the importance of workplace first aid training.

“Our priority is always the safety of our residents and team, and this extends to helping our team and their families to be safe at home,” he said.

“We are so pleased Zedden is safe and Dennis’ training enabled a positive outcome.”

St John Victoria senior training team leader Kristin King said accidental threats to breathing, including choking, accounted for 11 per cent of child deaths in children aged under 8-years-old.

“First aid heroes are everyday people and are everywhere,” she said.

More than 80 people die in Australia each year as a result of choking.

To enrol in a first aid course click here.

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