Two Bel-Aire Elementary School teachers took quick action and saved a 10-year-old from choking at school Friday.
Harold Dean was eating a kiwi when he started choking and grabbing his throat.
“We had our fifth-period class snacks and a couple minutes later I saw Harold take off running to the trash can. He was holding his throat, choking,” fourth-grade teacher Sandy Bankston said.
Bankston grabbed Harold and performed the Heimlich maneuver on him, dislodging the fruit before the school nurse arrived.
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Minutes later, when third-grade teacher Kristi Scott saw Harold was still having trouble breathing, she performed the Heimlich on him.
“He was still having trouble,” she said. “He didn’t get everything out the first time and he was gagging and having trouble breathing.”
Teachers aren’t required to know how to use the Heimlich maneuver at the elementary school, but fortunately for Harold, Bankston and Scott are trained in CPR. Scott became a teacher after working nine years in the health care industry. Bankston said she took a first aid class in college.
Both said they believe it’s a good idea to train all teachers in how to use the Heimlich.
“It’s a good thing to know. You never know when you’re going to use it, in the cafeteria or in the classroom,” Bankston said.
Because of the scare, Principal Heather Blenden said she plans to have the school nurse certified to be a trainer in the Heimlich maneuver. She said she’d also like to have all of her teachers trained in that technique and other first-aid procedures, said Tran Pham Bui, public information officer for the district.
“Teachers are heroes every day, but when they take the extra step to save a child’s life, it is truly a blessing,” Blenden said. “I am proud of Mrs. Scott and Mrs. Bankson’s quick response in this situation. It has prompted me to seek training for all of my teachers in the near future.”
Scott offered another tip, this time aimed at the students. Chew your food first.
“They inhale the food,” Scott said. “They’re like animals sometimes. They’re so hungry they don’t take time to chew the food.”
Harold is doing fine, both teachers said, although he’s a little shy of being in the spotlight.