Mum’s ‘scary moment’ as baby chokes on piece of food

Bella on her mum Jessie Mannall'’s lap at hospital after the five-month-old had difficulties breathi

Bella on her mum Jessie Mannall'’s lap at hospital after the five-month-old had difficulties breathing after choking badly on a rusk. Picture: Jessie Mannall - Credit: Archant

A mother has spoken of the scary situation she was faced with as her five-month old baby suffered breathing difficulties after choking on a piece of food.

James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston. Photo: James Paget University Hospital

James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston. Photo: James Paget University Hospital - Credit: James Paget University Hospital

Jessie Mannall was making tea for her young children at their home in Halesworth last week when her daughter, Bella Gallington, choked on a rusk - with a piece getting stuck in her throat.

The traumatic ordeal at their home in Queens Drive on Monday, December 2 started a frantic few hours for the family.

Eventually Bella made a full recovery, and Miss Mannall is now hoping to highlight the importance of the voluntary role of community first responders within the area.

Miss Mannall said: "It was tea time and while I was preparing it I gave Bella a rusk.

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"It was the last one in the box and she choked on that.

"She has never done it before as she ended up getting a bit of rusk stuck in her throat.

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"She could not breathe well, was gagging and choking badly.

"My first thought was I must get it out - then I started to panic."

She added: "I thought I needed to hit her back to get it out.

"But it didn't work and I could not get it out."

After calling 999 about 4.45pm, two hours later still no ambulance had arrived.

"I was in shock," Miss Mannall admitted.

"Bella was really struggling with her breathing and being sick as well, I just wanted someone to check her out.

"A first responder could help and there might not be the need to go to hospital."

Thankfully Miss Mannall managed to get the piece of food out of her airway after about 15 minutes, but the tot was "still not herself."

She said: "She was not choking but I wanted to get her checked out.

"She exhausted herself and kept falling asleep very tired, so I had to keep moving her and keep her awake."

After speaking with the emergency services once more, Miss Mannall was offered a taxi to go get her daughter checked over at hospital but with her partner soon arriving from his work in Norwich the family were able to drive to the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston.

They arrived at hospital about 7.30pm and after Bella was checked over they got home again about 1am last Tuesday morning.

Hospital treatment

On arrival at the accident and emergency department of the Norfolk hospital, Miss Mannall said: "We took her to A&E where they were very busy, every seat was taken.

"I know its not the hospital's fault or anyone's fault at all - they were so very busy.

"It was just stressful and panicked me so much.

"It was definitely a scary moment, but thankfully Bella is back to normal now.

"The hospital said I was doing the right thing by hitting her back."

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service Trust said: "We were called at 4.46pm on December 2 with reports that a baby had something stuck in her throat.

"While on the phone to the call handler the item was dislodged at 4.53pm.

"After this, we advised the caller to make their own way to hospital.

"We appreciate these situations can be very distressing, but are pleased there was a successful outcome."

CFR groups

According to the East of England Ambulance Service website, the nearest community first responders (CFR) groups are based at Rumburgh, Wissett and Wenhaston.

But with a population of about 5,000 people in Halesworth, Miss Mannall is hoping that a new CFR group could be established in the market town.

She said: "I would love to try and get some help with the community first responder situation.

"It would be brilliant and I'm sure a lot of mums would be thankful too.

"If we had first responders Bella wouldn't have maybe had the piece of food stuck for so long."

An ambulance service spokesman added: "Our community first responders (CFRs) are volunteers trained by us and are the vital first response before an ambulance crew arrives.

"Their role is to help stabilise the patient and provide the appropriate care until the more highly skilled ambulance crew arrives on scene to take over the treatment."

For information on volunteering visit

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