Saving Your Child From Choking

05/17/2015 10:32 am ET | Updated May 15, 2016

It was only to be expected that he wouldn't stand by and watch, knowing him. He is not that type of person. He is simply unable to sit on his hands and do nothing. After T4C (translators4children), a humanitarian pediatric project where professional translators and doctors translate for free the medical records of children seriously ill reported by hospitals, he has recently launched the English version of another website "Save a Child From Choking", a place to effectively highlight choking hazards in infants and toddlers, to share resources and build support.

Suffocation due to foreign bodies is a leading cause of mortality among children; food, toys and other small objects are the primary causes of choking-related injury and death. According to RPA (Risk & Policy Analysts Ltd) the number of incidents per year in children aged 0-14 in the European Union is about 50.000, 1% of which are fatal. As for the USA, the NYS Department of Health reports that at least one child dies from choking on food every five days and more than 10.000 children are taken to a hospital emergency room each year for food-choking injuries.

Marco Squicciarini, M.D., is well aware of that but he is also conscious of the need to address the lack of knowledge about the correct procedure to be followed when facing such emergency which, unfortunately, is much more common than we might think. Few, simple, lifesaving maneuvers that enable people to handle a crisis effectively. Knowing what to do could make the difference for a child between living or dying. Since he joined the Red Cross as a volunteer doctor, he has invested his spare time in this project which over the years has become his mission.

"There are kids in a state of coma because they chocked on a peanut or a grape, parents overcome with grief for their child's death through choking, they didn't know what to do or didn't know they were doing wrong and that's the real problem," says dr. Squicciarini "bystanders are unaware of the CPR techniques to dislodge the object and save the baby's life. My purpose is to raise awareness about this issue and what should be done".

He wanted a website that would offer documents, guidelines, videos, audio-books, with a section for hearing-impaired persons and would serve as a communication-information hub for anyone looking for training given by experts available at different locations or for resources, advice and tips on that subject. The intent is that more and more people can learn how to prevent injuries and how to unblock the airway effectively. In order to make it even easier and friendly - panicking is not going to help in those moments - he is now developing a free APP to encourage people to be trained or be familiar with the issue, wherever they are.

"I dream of creating a large national network to train parents, kindergarten and school teachers, health caregivers, boy scout leaders and anyone dealing with kids to act promptly and effectively when an emergency situation arises. Free training courses to teach people how to administer CPR to a child, that's what I'm planning, because choking injuries and deaths are preventable. Travelling around Italy to create and coordinate groups focused on this project, so that in a few years we may bring down to zero the children death rate caused by choking".

Dr. Squicciarini's people-oriented personality and expertise help him keep an open mind and broad horizons, and he has soon embraced the Susy Safe project, a global database of foreign bodies injuries in children from 0 to 14 years old, gathering data from EU and non EU Countries. The project, born in 2004 with funds of the European Commission (DGSANCO, Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs) and now supported by the non-profit Prochild, is coordinated by prof. Dario Gregori, M.D., Head of the Unit of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Padova, Italy. Today, there are more than 100 participating centers from 43 Countries and with over 19.000 cases stored it represents the widest collection of data in the world.

Dr. Squicciarini is an explosion of ideas that do not remain just ideas for long, now he makes available to multinational companies mass training programs aligned with the Triple Bottom Line framework proposed by the EU and reflecting the Corporate Social Responsibility concept which has been given growing attention in recent years.

After a book, a number of multilingual posters under the UN patronage, many assignments and recognitions from the Italian Red Cross, the Italian Federation of Pediatrician Doctors and the Italian Society of Emergency Medicine, in 2014 he was appointed by the Italian Health Minister as Expert to the Higher Health Institute" and at that time I looked back and saw how much has been done" he says "how far we have gone, how many achievements have been made and what still could be done, how in the last 11 years our society has responded to this need and the cultural change it is now undergoing; if we bring this knowledge into our everyday life and if it is widely known, it can save a child's life. Because the life-giving privilege is entrusted to many women but saving a life is in everybody's hands".