Premature baby saved thanks to first aid workshop

She had no idea that a chain of events that started months before would make all the difference to the survival of her tiny baby

Monday, December 9 2019

When a teenage mother unexpectedly went into labour three months prematurely, she had no idea that a chain of events that started months before would make all the difference to the survival of her tiny baby.

“Towards the end of 2018, we at Netcare’s Gauteng South West regional office took the Jan Hofmeyer Community Services Centre under our wing as a CSI outreach project. Since then, staff members have made donations and volunteered their time to support the work of this non-profit organisation that does much good in the community,” says Sandile Mbele, Netcare’s regional director.

Jan Hofmeyer Community Services (JHCS) provides a childcare and feeding programme, as well as assistance for the elderly and destitute unemployed individuals of the Jan Hofmeyer, Vredepark and Vrededorp communities in Johannesburg.

In addition to the Netcare regional office staff members donating their time and skills, they also facilitated a basic first aid workshop for JHCS staff and volunteers earlier this year. This was arranged with assistance from Netcare’s national trauma co-ordinator, Nicky Baltsoucos, and Netcare Garden City Hospital’s emergency department unit manager, Faiyaz Buys. The training itself was provided on a voluntary basis by Rochelle Foster, a part-time first aid instructor and former basic life support medic.

Monica Joubert, manager of the JHCS feeding programme, was one of the people who attended. “Years before I had done basic first aid training, and I was very eager to brush up on my skills when Netcare kindly offered us the training opportunity. Given that we are involved in providing services to many children and senior citizens, we never know when we might encounter a situation where someone needs first aid,” Monica says.

Little did Monica know at the time of the training, that just over a month later, her new skills would enable her to save a fragile young life.

“One afternoon, a woman who lives near our centre called and asked me whether I could assist her friend, who was six months pregnant and had suddenly started experiencing severe pain in her back and lower abdomen,” adds Joubert.

“We called for an ambulance and I went over to where they lived to see how I could assist. The young, first-time mother however gave birth to the premature baby before the ambulance arrived and was in complete shock, shivering and not knowing what to do.

“The tiny baby moved a little after he was born but then went limp, and I knew I had to do something to try to save his life. I checked his airway and performed CPR on him, just the way Rochelle had taught us to do CPR on infants. Thankfully, the baby boy started breathing on his own and I could see the colour coming back into his little face. I was so grateful to have received the training, and to have been in the right place at the right time to help save his life.”

Joubert says that she did not cut the umbilical cord or do anything outside of the training she had received, but tried to comfort the mother and baby as best she could. When the ambulance arrived, the mother and baby were taken to hospital, and are reportedly both doing well. The mother has asked for her privacy to be respected and does not wish to be named in the media.

Foster, who is passionate about teaching basic first aid skills, was previously a basic life support paramedic based at Netcare Linksfield Hospital and is now practice manager for a doctor at Netcare Garden City Hospital.

“In the training we teach the different techniques for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation [CPR] on adults, children and infants respectively. I am so pleased that the training gave Monica the confidence to put her first aid skills into practice and she was able to save a life.
“I would encourage everyone to learn the basics of first aid, and to refresh their skills from time to time. You never know when you may need to use the knowledge and skill to save a life or keep someone alive until professional medical assistance arrives.”

Mbele says it is heart-warming that the Gauteng South West regional office’s informal partnership with the non-profit organisation paved the way for the JHCS staff members and volunteers to receive first aid training.

“It is most rewarding to note that we were able to make a difference through our association with JHCS. We congratulate Monica for having the courage to put her training into action under considerable pressure, to save the baby’s life.

“We are grateful to Netcare Trauma Division and Netcare Garden City Hospital’s emergency department, particularly Faiyaz Buys, as well as volunteers such as Rochelle Foster for their caring and participation in this community outreach,”

Netcare Gauteng South West Regional office has also supported JHCS through a number of other initiatives. Staff members arranged health-related talks for the children assisted by the centre, on the subjects of drug awareness and drowning prevention, sponsored snacks for the children, and donated a projector to JHCS. For Mandela Day, a lunch was provided for some 350 people and Netcare staff donated second-hand clothing for JHCS to distribute to those in need. Recently, the Netcare regional office sponsored 20 Santa shoeboxes with presents for underprivileged children,” Mbele concluded.

For more information on ‘CPR for Friends and Families’ training provided by the Netcare Group, please direct your enquiries to Netcare Education’s Faculty of Emergency and Critical Care on 010 209 8383.


Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Estene Lotriet-Vorster
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]