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Note to self: Hold onto that strap. And learn CPR.

Posted on: July 6, 2011

When I first started taking my teeny tiny baby out for walks in our brand new, bright red pram, the only thing I was clutching tighter than the handles, was the strap. You know the one – it hangs down from the handle, and has a loop on the end so you can slip it over your wrist, thereby attaching you to the pram so that it cannot escape with its precious cargo. Well, it took at least thirty ventures into the big, wide world for me to accept that wrapping the strap around and around my wrist was probably an unnecessary extra step, and that simply slipping it on would probably suffice. It took another child or two for me to even entertain the idea that the strap is probably not needed on flat surfaces, nor in shopping centres (except on escalators or near fountains). It was then that the strap began to serve other purposes, too. Instead of being left to dangle uselessly on outings I had deemed ‘safe’ enough, the strap was firmly placed in the hand of a toddler, who was determined not to ride in the pram, whilst also refusing to hold my hand. It has also been used as a hand-hold when crossing roads, as a tow-lead for abandoned bikes/scooters on failed rides (when the kids get ten minutes up the road and then refuse to go any further in either direction – totally frustrating!), and to hang grocery bags from.

However, even after four years and three kids, nothing freaks me out more than the thought of a runaway pram. So, when I encounter even the tiniest of hills, on goes the strap. I can’t help it. And today I was reminded of exactly why it’s important.

This morning, Tiernan and I went to the river for a walk. I was pushing Tiernan in the stroller – he was too sick to go to preschool, so I wasn’t going to force him to walk if he wasn’t feeling up to it. We were strolling along a section of the river with very steep banks, which are about two metres above the water level. There are lots of trees lining the river bank, so I was taken completely by surprise when we rounded a little bend and came upon a family group in big trouble. There were two young children standing and looking on as a slightly older boy, and his Mum and a small toddler, were climbing up the steep riverbank with a pram. The pram was wet and so was the toddler. I quickly put two and two together. I parked our stroller next to the path (with brakes on, and Tiernan out of it, for good measure), before climbing down the bank and helping to pull the pram up. The toddler, who apparently had been completely submerged in the water when the pram rolled in, was crying, and shaking with cold. While the poor woman, who had obviously had a nasty shock, undressed her, Tiernan and I ran back to our car for some towels. Unfortunately I had no spare clothes on hand to offer, but the towels were gratefully received. The toddler, who I learned was 19 months old, soon settled with some nice cuddles from her Mum and her sister’s dry jacket to put on. Tiernan and I hung around a little longer, just to make sure they were okay. The woman’s phone was miraculously still working, after being dunked in the water, and she was able to ask her sister-in-law to come and help. Since there wasn’t anything else I could do, I wished them good luck, and we went on our way. With the strap tied firmly around my wrist.

I feel it’s very lucky that I came across this family when I did, even though I didn’t do much to help in the end. It’s really scary to think that there were at least ten people standing within 20 metres of the incident, and all of them were completely oblivious to what was happening, as was I, until I stumbled into the middle of it. I am also really happy that the toddler was okay. I never found out what actually happened, but the woman must have been pretty quick in getting her baby out of the water. Thank goodness. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not up to date with my First Aid. I do think I would be able to remember enough to fumble through it if I had to, but when it comes to a critical moment like this one could have been, then ‘winging it’, is not ideal. I really should go and get refreshed.

Anyway, I hope the family’s day improved significantly after their scare.

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