Georgia SRO Saves 6th Grader Choking on Bottle Cap
A school resource officer is being recognized for saving the life of a choking student.
SRO Duane Smith was on duty at Red Top Middle School in Emerson. Ga., when 11-year-old Ethan Hamrick began choking on a water bottle cap during lunch on Dec. 3, The Daily Tribune reports.
“I did not see him swallow the cap, but when I turned toward him, I saw him choking, and he said, ‘Go grab the teacher. I think I’m choking,'” said Rudra. “I went to the teacher table and said, ‘Ethan is choking.’ Then I went back to the table and got out of the way for the resource officer.”
Smith, who has been an SRO for four years but has only worked for the Bartow County School System since the beginning of the school year, performed the Heimlich maneuver and was able to dislodge the cap with the help of several other employees.
While Smith was working on Hamrick, teacher Karlene Boyd called for a nurse on the two-way radio.
“About 20 seconds later, I heard her say on the radio, ‘We need a nurse now; he’s turning blue,’ at which point I broke into a sprint,” said Assistant Principal Jason Rood.
When Rood arrived, Smith had been administering the Heimlich for about a minute, which turned the cap “from flat to sideways, where air was able to pass by the object,” Smith said.
School nurse Jessica Agan and head nurse Annette Lively arrived and the three were able to dislodge the cap together.
In his role as SRO, Smith covers Allatoona, Cloverleaf and Emerson elementary schools in addition to his base school, Woodland High.
“Not looking for accolades but to be the best first responder I can be for the community and abroad,” Smith said of praise he’s received from far and wide. “I wasn’t even supposed to be there that day, but I’m glad I was in the right place at the right time. I appreciate all of the said comments.”
Smith has also been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and served 10 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“The path of life puts us in places and situations that we can’t explain; just remain calm and engage the problem,” he said. “Trust your training and skills. I actually reacted before I realized I was up and gone, like muscle memory per se.”
Smith also urged that everyone learn CPR and first aid.
“Anyone could one day be the first on a scene, which would be that situation’s first responder,” he said. “Learning basic first aid/life-saving skills could be a plus in someone else’s life. Don’t be afraid to commit.”
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