DEPUE — A teacher has to be able to handle any situation that arises and Sarah Peterson proved she was up to the task.
Peterson, a physical education teacher at DePue School, was recently honored for her quick, heroic efforts of using the Heimlich maneuver to save one of her students from choking.
Peterson received a surprise visit at school on Wednesday from her family and Marcia Hartwig, the education and community training center coordinator at Perry Memorial Hospital, who presented her with the Heartsaver Hero Award from the American Heart Association.
About a month ago, Peterson was just finishing up her PE class with the seventh graders. The students were filing out of the locker rooms, waiting for the bell to the ring, when Peterson witnessed one of the students pop a piece of candy into his mouth. She quickly realized something was wrong.
“I saw a piece of the candy fly out of his mouth and instinctively I thought I need to do something,” she said.
Peterson started performing back blows and more pieces of the candy started coming up here and there. She then began performing the Heimlich until the student stopped choking entirely.
“It all happened very fast and I’m glad it worked out how it was supposed to work out. I’m glad I was there and had training,” she said.
Peterson has taken Basic Life Support (BLS) courses for many years and just recently completed the BLS Instructor Course at Perry Memorial Hospital.
“I’m just so very proud of her for using her knowledge and not hesitating when it was needed,” Hartwig said when presenting the award.
With her ability to now teach the BLS course to others, Peterson plans to share her knowledge with fellow teachers and staff at DePue Schools, as well as the community.
“I was glad I was prepared when something happened. I didn’t expect to use it so soon or ever use it, but I’m glad I was knowledgeable in it,” she said.
For those who are interested in learning about ways to help in an emergency like this, Perry Memorial Hospital provides many different classes each month in an effort to save more lives in the community.
Those who are interested in taking a BLS course, should contact Hartwig at 815-876-4449 or visit the hospital’s website at www.perrymemorial.org to see when classes are being offered.
Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.