A college engagement coach used the fruits of her first aid training to good effect when she saved a student who was choking on a grape.
Thankfully, schools liaison officer Sam Matthews had been put through her life-saving training by Darlington College and is now an official first aider.
She was visiting a Bishop Auckland school as a college ambassador for a careers event, which was designed to motivate young people, when a student she was advising began having breathing difficulties.
“Ironically, we had just been talking about the dangers of eating grapes when I noticed he’d started wheezing,” said Sam.
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“I thought he was having a joke at first but when I asked him if he was ok he shook his head ‘no’ as he couldn’t speak. I don’t know if it was mother’s instinct or my training that took over but I just jumped up to help him.
“I leaned him forward a bit and slapped his back several times but this didn’t help. So I got behind him and did abdominal thrusts, known as the Heimlich manoeuvre, while telling him constantly he was going to be ok.
“Eventually he spoke and I knew he was alright. The grape had popped out and was on the floor. We were both a bit shaken but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. He was in shock I think as he said he felt hot then cold. But he was checked out by the school’s first aider and thankfully was ok.”
Sam, of Darlington, is all too aware of the dangers of choking as someone she once knew died when a piece of toast became lodged in his airway.
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“I’m on call at college as a first aider but this is the first time I have had to deal with a potential choking,” she said.
“First aid training really does work and everyone should have it, even if it is only for the sake of your own family. You just never know when you might come across a situation as we go about our daily lives when it could make the difference between life and death.
“Training makes you more aware, more confident and when it kicks in it is amazing how you react.”