How an 11-year-old saved the life of her infant cousin

Topics: Ontario, First Aid and CPR, Youth
August 14, 2018

Fenyx_600-x-925.jpgFenyx Aubin-LeBlanc was awarded a Canadian Red Cross Rescuer Award at the age of 11 when she saved the life of her 10-month-old cousin Nora. The incident happened at a family gathering on Jan. 2, 2018 to celebrate a family member’s birthday.

Fenyx was hanging out watching TV with her cousins when she noticed Nora making choking sounds and turning red. Fortunately, Fenyx had recently taken two Canadian Red Cross babysitter courses so she knew exactly how to respond to a choking infant.

She called out for help to her adult relatives, who were chatting in the next room, and picked up Nora, turned her face down, and gave her repeated back blows to dislodge whatever was obstructing her breathing. It turned out Nora had been chewing a piece of tissue paper from the gift wrap, it became lodged in her throat, and Fenyx’s back blows forced the tissue out of Nora’s airway.

In the brief moments between when Fenyx called for help and when the adults stepped into the room, Fenyx had already saved Nora’s life. “You were right there for my baby girl ... you saved your little cousin,” said Nora’s mother Nicolette LeBlanc, at the Rescuer Award ceremony.

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“That’s amazing – good on her for not only recognizing the situation, but for having the confidence to act,” said Don Marentette, director of first aid programs at the Canadian Red Cross. The courses Fenyx took are part of the Red Cross’s new first aid program, which is all about empowering the learner to take action during a first aid emergency, in addition to teaching the actual skills and knowledge of first aid.

“For me it’s around confidence, and how important it is,” said Marentette. “She took some courses, which is important. We know that when people take training, there’s a knowledge transfer that takes place. But then there’s also the propensity to act.” When Fenyx was faced with an emergency, she didn’t freeze and forget her training, she immediately snapped into action and cleared her cousin’s airway.

The Canadian Red Cross babysitting course teaches how to recognize and prevent unsafe situations, as well as first aid, CPR, and the business of babysitting. It’s available for boys and girls ages 11 to 15. When receiving the Rescuer Award, Fenyx said she took the course twice because she babysits her two younger sisters. It’s clear the courses equipped her with the skills and mindset to act quickly and provide life-saving care for the young children in her family.

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