Q & A with Mel the Paramedic

My best friend Mel is not only one of my favourite human beings in the world, she is also a paramedic (and a damn good one). She completed her Bachelor of Nursing and Paramedics at the Queensland University of Technology and has since been working full time. I sat down with her to ask a few questions about health and babies.

How long have you been an ambulance officer for?

I started full time employment in 2012, so coming up to 5 years…yikes!

In those years roughly how many jobs have you been to that are related to children 12 and under?

Countless…I work generally 4 days per week and see approximately 7 patients a day. During each working week I’d have about 1-4 jobs relating to children.

What are the most common health problems/risks in children and babies in your experience?

My most common paediatric jobs are generally not very serious which is fantastic! But they include:

  • Broken limbs, especially forearm fractures (ulna and radius) – these are most prevalent as kids climb, run, jump and evidently fall. At hospital they’ve even made an acronym for it “FOOSH” (fall onto out stretched hand).
  • Croup – seems to come around at every change of season and particularly in the colder months.
  • Fevers – kids find it hard to regulate their temperature so it’s common to have quick spikes in temps which can cause febrile convulsions. Super scary stuff but extremely common.

What do you believe is the most important medical ‘training’ to have as a parent?

First aid training is so important. Accidents happen…but if you’re mentally prepared and trained it can make a huge difference in life/death or disability. My favourite quote is “The fate of the wounded rests in the hands of the ones who apply the first dressing” – Nicholous Senn. This is so accurate. Perfect example, if your munchkin touches a hot stove, or accidentally spills boiling water over themselves…first things first…jump into a cool shower and stay there for a minimum of 20 minutes. This will help prevent the heat travelling further into the skin and prevent the burns from developing into the second or third degree! It will also provide some pain relief while you wait for an ambulance to arrive.

Would it be worth doing a CPR course?

Of course! Not just for kids, adults too! The thing we know about cardiac arrests is that effective compressions and early defibrillation gives the patient the highest chance of survival!

As choking seems to be a new mums main concern when introducing solids; can you give me a break down on how to respond if your baby/child chokes?


1) Yes, call for help. Get someone to call 000 or you call!
2) If it’s a partial obstruction, i.e. the airway is not completely blocked, (you’ll know as the patient will still be able to breath and cough), encourage coughing and reassure them until an ambulance arrives or until they’re able to clear the obstruction. Do not do back blows or chest thrusts as this can cause a partial obstruction to turn into a full obstruction.
3) If it is a full obstruction (for a small child) place them stomach down along your forearm and with a flat hand aim to use the heel of your hand to deliver a sharp back blow. Aim for the middle of the back in an upwards direction.
4) If it is a full obstruction (for a larger child) ask them to stand slightly leaning onto the back of a chair or table for support. Then deliver back blows with the heel of your hand to their back. As you come into contact with the back try to imagine hitting upwards with the heel of your palm.
5) If after 5 attempts that fails…attempt chest thrusts (a sharp, forceful chest compression). And repeat if necessary.
6) If the patient becomes unconscious and it is hard to find a pulse, commence CPR.


I don’t really drink Cow’s Milk (unless it’s in a dessert). Is it safe for Myla to drink Soy Milk?

I’m not a dietitian and have no idea about the long-term effects of alternative milk products versus cows milk. I don’t think there is a simple solution. It’s super controversial. Some people say we are the only mammals that drink another species milk and that’s not right…but then there are a ton of probiotics in dairy products which are great for immunity and gut health…and there are studies out there about soy milk and its effects on boys because it contains oestrogen. I really don’t know…can I use a phone a friend?

What are your thoughts on infants sleeping on their stomach? I ask because SIDS is every mothers fear…yet if you ask my mum tummy down was the norm.

Ok so I’m no expert on this one either, however, the cause of SIDS is still very much unknown. Its not caused by bad parenting, certain sleeping positions or a lack of heart monitoring equipment.  It is just one of those terrible things we all pray we never have to go through. Basically the “back to sleep” campaign was started to help reduce the risks of asphyxiation in infants and help reduce the rate of SIDS. Along with other tips such as burping before putting a child down for their night sleep, minimising cot clutter and not smothering children with blankets. I think any recommended technique which may help reduce the chance of sudden infant death syndrome is a good one to adopt.

Lastly, what is the hardest job you have been on that involved a infant or child?

All serious jobs relating to children are hard. None of it is fair and frankly it effing sucks. Doesn’t matter what type of “job” it is…the emotions parents go through is the hardest thing to bear witness to. What can you possible say or do to make anything better? Please just don’t live in fear, and don’t get caught up on the small things. Live your life like it’s your last day. Love unconditionally and cherish every moment with friends and family.

One thought on “Q & A with Mel the Paramedic

  1. I’m glad I read this post. I didn’t know about leaving a burn underwater for 20 minutes. Let’s just hope I never have to apply it.
    And yes, witnessing your child gag is so scary. I’ve witnessed it countless times and I still can’t get used to it. 😦


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