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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland



09 November 2016

A quick-thinking twelve-year-old from Islandmagee has been honoured for saving his dad’s life.

When a portion of fruit became trapped in his father’s airway, Alex Todd leapt to the rescue, putting into practice some of the First Aid he had learnt with the Whitehead Detachment Army Cadet Force. 

Dad, who felt that he was on the verge of collapse when Alex intervened, is both grateful and amazed at the clear-headed actions of his son and understandably proud that his courage has now been publicly recognised with a prestigious First Aid Commendation.

Colonel David Kane, Commandant of the 1st NI Battalion Army Cadet Force, pictured presenting that certificate to Alex, is delighted that ACF training has proved a life-saver.

He says, “All our Cadets learn basic First Aid and it is a popular and rewarding element of our curriculum.  Thankfully, Cadets are very rarely called upon to put that knowledge into practice in a real life situation but it is great to know that, should an emergency situation arise, they have the knowledge and the presence of mind to intervene until help arrives.

“Alex showed tremendous character as well as skill as he helped his father in a fast-escalating and dangerous scenario.  His capacity to stay cool and recall everything that he had learnt in Cadets is admirable and we’re all very proud of him.

Quietly-spoken and modest, Alex who became a Cadet almost two years ago, is described as ‘an extremely mature young man who has really blossomed since joining the Whitehead Detachment. For those adults who don’t know how to respond to a choking emergency, the advice is to encourage the patient to ‘cough out’ the obstruction.  If that doesn’t work, support their upper body with one hand and help them lean forward, using the heel of your hand to administer up to five sharp back blows between their shoulder blades. Check their mouth to see if there’s anything in there and, if there is, get them to pick it out. If back blows don’t work, stand behind them and, linking your hands between their tummy button and the bottom of their chest, clench your lower hand into a fish and pull up to five times with a sharp inwards and upwards movement. If they’re still choking, call emergency services and follow their expert directions until help arrives.