First Minutes Matter is an initiative by LifeFlight, one of Australia’s finest flying care and hospital rescue services, that educates parents on what to do in the first minutes after their child has been in an accident – the first few minutes that can mean the difference between life and death.

Matilda Chapman will never forget having to perform CPR for ten minutes on her son Orlando’s lifeless body, while her partner rushed them to hospital.

“The first time it happened I was really scared,” said Matilda.

“It’s a split-second decision where you could either cry, let your emotions take over and watch your child die, or you can push it all aside and go, ‘I’m going to save this kid’s life’.

“It’s the worst feeling having to breathe for your child, when you are performing chest compressions and your worries aren’t about whether you are going to crack his ribs with the force of compressions, your thoughts are only on the fact that you need this to work.”

This incident prompted doctors to discover that Orlando suffers from an unknown and untreatable condition which causes him to stop breathing suddenly and without warning. Over the next eight months, Orlando suffered two more attacks, where he was airlifted by aeromedical services.

The First Minutes Matter campaign encourages all parents to be prepared for an emergency, and to be able to correctly and safely perform CPR on an infant.

In the most recent incident, Matilda had just put Orlando down for a sleep. She went back into the room just two minutes after leaving her happy baby sleeping peacefully, but found Orlando lying face down and unresponsive, his lips turned blue.

The one memory I will never ever forget is that sight of seeing my baby blue, but I knew what to do. You switch off any emotion, take your mum shirt off and you put the tough one on,” said Matilda.

“The support I received from LifeFlight while in the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter was outstanding. Orlando had become quite distressed and it was good to see one of the paramedics hold and cuddle him until he fell asleep. That’s the best care possibly imaginable for a child, and we received this mid-flight.”

Matilda has become incredibly passionate about educating other parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who don’t know how to perform infant CPR.

“It doesn’t matter if you live five hours or five minutes away from a hospital, when your child stops breathing, you only have a split-second to act.”

The First Minutes Matter online questionnaire from Life Flight is available online for parents who anyone who wishes to become more prepared for an emergency with their child.

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