As the mother of eight children, Michele Roland has seen her share of children in distress.
So, when a student started choking during an after-school program, she knew just what to do.
“I’ve done the Heimlich before with my own children – choking on pennies and stuff like that,’’ said Roland, a paraprofessional in the Duquesne City School District, Allegheny County.
Roland was wiping off a table in the cafeteria during an after-school program when she heard her daughter, Jennifer Kraus, who is also a paraprofessional in the district, yelling that a student was choking on tortilla chips.
She ran over and immediately started performing the Heimlich maneuver on the fifth-grader, but it wasn’t working.
“She was coughing but the cough didn’t sound normal to me. It was more of a gag,’’ Roland said. “I was afraid if she took a deep breath the particles would go into her lungs.’’
After a few unsuccessful attempts with the Heimlich, Roland told her, “I’m going to do it again and I want you to try to throw up. And she did.’’
The student was fine after that.
“I had bus duty the next morning and when she got off the bus, she ran up to me and gave me a hug, and said, ‘Thank you for saving my life,’’’ Roland said. “I started crying. But I’m not a hero. I just sprang into action