The quick thinking of a Ponoka Elementary School teacher helped save the life of a choking student.
It was a regular lunch break for Kindergarten students Dec. 17 that quickly turned dangerous when 5-year-old Alyssa Jeffrey started to choke. Teacher Amanda Graystone was with the students when she saw Alyssa stand up holding her throat.
The teacher knew something was very wrong. “My first thought was, ‘What do I do?’”
It was a matter of seconds and she went into life-saving mode.
Graystone quickly went up to Alyssa and first patted her back to try and dislodge the stuck food. When that didn’t work she used her CPR training and attempted the Heimlich Maneuver.
It was at this point that Alyssa’s face was turning red. Graystone called to another teacher to get some help. Alyssa was starting to panic.
Graystone saw that the Heimlich wasn’t working and because Alyssa is so young she didn’t want to push too hard. So she used the next step in her training when dealing with infants who are choking by using a finger sweep in her throat.
“I looked at her and told her, ‘This is going to hurt,’” said Graystone.
That sweep located the stuck food and Graystone was able to dislodge it and pull it out. Alyssa was able to breathe again. “I did everything I could to make her breathe.”
What seemed like an eternity to her was probably around one to two minutes, she explained. “It was a blur.”
“It was a very stressful event,” she added.
Graystone, who also has an 18-month old baby, has taken this type of training but never actually had to use it. Her adrenaline was high for some time after.
“I still think about it. It’s still with me,” said Graystone of the experience.
Alyssa’s parents, Amanda and Kyle, are grateful that Graystone was there to help. Amanda said they were called by staff about what occurred and while on the way to the school they prayed for Alyssa’s well being.
Kyle is a former volunteer firefighter and Amanda said he went into emergency response mode. He spoke with Graystone about what happened to get an idea of the events.
Amanda was grateful to see her daughter. “I went forehead to forehead with her and I told her everything was okay,” she said.
The parents praised Graystone for doing everything she could. “She did all of her training and she went into mama mode as well,” Amanda added.
“She saved our daughter’s life just before Christmas.”
Amanda praised school administration for working with Graystone and the family to ensure everyone was taken care of. After the event Alyssa’s parents took her to the hospital to ensure she was healthy and well. Other than a little bit of a sore throat, Amanda said she was fine.
When Alyssa returned to school on Wednesday she was all smiles. “She hugged me right away when she saw me,” said Graystone.