Senior’s quick thinking saves classmate’s life

Student uses knowledge learned from YouTube to rescue fellow office aide

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courtesy of WebMD

HOW TO SAVE A LIFE. A senior’s knowledge of the Heimlich maneuver helped another student to breathe again.

By Summer Rains, Willis High School

It started of as any other day, and no one could have predicted what was ahead for everyone in the attendance office that day. Senior Gilberto Alfaro walked into 3rd period class unaware he would leave the class a hero. 

She just popped the candy in her mouth. Then she began with coughing. The gagging and wheezing comes next. After that, her face turned red and eyes started watering. She tried to play it off, but she could not speak.

Choking can be a very scary and traumatizing experience for anyone. When senior Brianna Manuel started choking on a piece of candy Alfaro performed the Heimlich maneuver on her to get the candy out of her throat.  

“Everyday he makes me laugh, so it was something that wasn’t normal for us,” senior Brianna Manuel said. “We always share food or candy, and that day, he gave me a piece of candy. He made me laugh in the middle of eating the candy, and it just got stuck. I tried to play it off, and it didn’t really work, it just got worse. I tried to drink something to make it go down, and it still got worse. Then he noticed that I wasn’t breathing, so he just turned me around and did the Heimlich maneuver.”

It is important to know the Heimlich maneuver because when someone can’t breathe due to obstruction of the airway, it can cause permanent brain damage or death after around four minutes. 

“A couple summers back, I worked as a lifeguard, and we had to watch YouTube videos over safety protocols like the Heimlich maneuver and CPR. That’s the reason why I was able to make her stop choking,” senior Gilberto Alfaro said. “I was scared in the moment, but then I didn’t think the nurse was in the main building, so I was like I have to try and help her out and do the best I can.” 

Choking happens when something gets lodged in the throat or windpipe and airflow is blocked. According to the National Safety Council, choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death.  

“I felt like I was gonna pass out,” Manuel said. “It was kinda traumatizing because even though it didn’t last long, I could not breathe. I felt like there was a chance I could die.” 

Acting fast is always important in life or death situations, and Attendance Clerk D’Alene Simmons, did just that. 

“I saw her over in the corner, and she wasn’t breathing, so I called the nurse,” Simmons said. “Gilberto got up and turned her around and just did the Heimlich maneuver. He was the real hero.” 

Situations like this aren’t common on campus, but everyone jumped to save Manuel’s life. 

“When I ran into the attendance office, I saw the candy fly across the room as she spit it out,” school nurse Hailey Dobraski said. “She was already good because he had already done what he was supposed to do. A tip for anyone that sees someone choking is to just to be aware and if they are grabbing at their throat or making sounds like they can’t breathe, it’s important to act quickly.”

This story was originally published on The Voice of the Wildkats on November 19, 2020.