Most people will remember November 4th, 2008, as the day we elected Barack Obama as the next President of the United States; but 10-year-old Jordyn Patterson will remember it as the day her cousin Kristyn Flippin, age 11, saved her life.
Last Tuesday began as an ordinary day for these two young girls, as they went outside to play volleyball and soak up some of the last few rays of warm sunshine before cold weather sets in.
In the fitful breeze, a funnel of golden sycamore leaves spun around the girls as they hit the ball back and forth with their grandmother/great grandmother, Catherine Gregory, watching from the window.
But, as we all know, in a single moment your whole world can suddenly turn upside down.
The girls had barely been outside for ten minutes, when Jordyn frantically began running toward the house as a piece of hard peppermint candy she had been eating, became lodged in her throat, restricting her breathing.
“What’s wrong?,” Kristyn recalls asking her cousin.
“I’m choking,” Jordyn managed to softly whisper, while attempting to drink a glass of water.
“My heart began to race,” Jordyn remembers, “as it got harder to breath and the room began to spin.”
“I thought I was going to die,” the young girl continued as tears pooled in her eyes.
The situation quickly deteriorated as Jordyn began to tremble and gasp for air, as she stood on the brink of collapsing.
Scared, but remaining calm and in control, Kristyn quietly walked up behind Jordyn and began the Heimlich Maneuver, which she had recently learned from her health teacher, Mr. Dean Rush, at Macon County Junior High.
And amazingly, within seconds, out popped the piece of candy that had almost claimed Jordyn’s life.
“Reflex told me to help Jordyn,” Kristyn said her voice hushed to a whisper, “and I knew what to do.”
“I could almost hear Mr. Rush say, ‘in an emergency situation always try and remain calm’,” she remarked, as the realization that she had actually saved another persons life began to sink in.
“Every year more than 4,000 people die when food gets stuck and blocks the trachea,” Mr. Rush said, “making breathing impossible. Death follows rapidly unless the food or other foreign material can be displaced from the airway.”
“The theory behind the Heimlich Maneuver,” he continued, “is that by compressing the abdomen below the level of the diaphragm, air is forced under pressure out of the lungs dislodging the obstruction in the trachea and bringing the foreign material back up into the mouth.”
Mr. Rush, who has been teaching health for over eight years, said the technique is relatively easy to learn and can save a person from choking to death in a matter of seconds.
“I always hope my students never have to do this form of CPR,” Rush remarked, “ but I can guarantee you they will be able to save someone’s life.”
“I’m proud that Kristyn remembered my instructions and was able to prevent a terrible tragedy involving the Gregory family.”
“I had her mother, Jennifer, and Aunt Cindy (Gregory) Patterson, both in school and I’m thrilled that I could be of help.”
“I want other parents to know,” said Cindy Patterson, “that Macon County Junior High and Mr. Dean Rush were instrumental in saving my daughter’s life, thanks to teaching our children CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver.”
“I thank God that Jordyn is alive and not a day goes by that I don’t feel grateful to my niece, Kristyn. There is no way I can ever truly thank her enough for the gift she gave me, my daughters life.”
Kristyn Flippin is the granddaughter of this reporter and Jordyn Patterson is my niece.