On Friday of last week, I had a scare of a lifetime. I have always wondered if I would remember how to perform CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver if the time ever came for me to use it. I can now say, without a doubt, I most certainly will remember. My mind took over and, despite the fact that I have never used my skills before, I knew what to do immediately without a second’s hesitation.
As a reminder, I work as a school nurse. I work in an elementary school and adore my job. It is amazing and one of the best decisions I have made as a career nurse. I was getting ready to leave early on Friday and was prepping my substitute when someone came running into my clinic. She yelled that I needed to come quick because someone was choking. Immediately, I got up and started running to the cafeteria. It isn’t a long run and I was there in mere seconds. My sub was running behind me as well as some students and the teacher that had came to get me.
I stopped in the doorway and just looked because there were a bunch of kids in the cafe. I was pointed to where the student who was choking was. I will be truthful in that I didn’t know what to expect but it wasn’t at all what I witnessed. I ran to where the student was. A gym teacher was doing the Heimlich Maneuver at the time. He looked exhausted. The student was unconscious and his eyes were rolled back. An image I can not get out of my head, even now, is how the student just looked like a rag doll in the arms of the teacher. He was trying with everything in him to save the child but the food would not dislodge.
I took over and grabbed a chair to start the same process. I could not hold the limp student up (he is as tall as me) and I needed the chair to just hold him up. I had some confused people who tried to take the chair or put it in back of the student but it only took a second (and a yell from me) to get it right and I started. I did three thrusts, yelled for 911 again, and then tried more. I think it was about 5 more thrusts before I was told the student was breathing. I didn’t hear him so did one more thrust and then (MIRACLE) he lifted his head. HE LIFTED HIS HEAD!
I can’t tell you what I felt. All I know is that every ounce of who I am and what I know went into those moments. All I wanted was to save that boy. All I cared about what getting him to breathe, and smile, and be able to laugh again. He started crying and I just held him in my arms and told him how happy I was that he was okay. I hugged him, kissed his head, and just held him. EMS showed up and I escorted him to my clinic around the corner to give him some privacy. Because, in my zone, I didn’t even realize how many children witnessed what the teacher and I had done. They were crying and scared.
I brought the student to my clinic where he got a clean bill of health and I got a high five from the EMS workers. I was supposed to have left for a doctor’s appointment but I couldn’t leave until I knew all was taken care of. I spent about 10 minutes trying to get in touch with parents and finally was able to sign off with EMS that the student was leaving with mom. I kept telling him how sorry I was for the pain I expected his belly to be in the next day (from the chair). I kept telling how happy I was that he was okay.
Mom brought the student to the emergency room where, again, he was given a completely clean bill of health. He even played football that night. And, the best thing ever??? I got a HUGE hug from my student Monday morning. THAT made it all worth it.
So, if you ever wonder if you will know what to do when the time comes to use skills learned… trust me, you will.