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Proper training, fast action, save Valley View student

11/21/2017, 1:04 p.m.
For 5th grade student Jason Skeate, Mrs. Pickering’s delayed lunch break was the luckiest break of his young life.
Salk Elementary School Nurse Mrs. Lisa Pickering and 5th grader Jason Skeate. Submitted photo

It seemed that no matter how many times Jonas E. Salk Elementary School Nurse Mrs. Lisa Pickering tried to leave for her lunch break last Friday, something happened to prevent her from leaving the school. For 5th grade student Jason Skeate, Mrs. Pickering’s delayed lunch break was the luckiest break of his young life.

Mrs. Pickering is in her first year as school nurse at the Valley View School District’s Salk Elementary located in Bolingbrook. Jason and his classmates were enjoying their afternoon snack just before 2 p.m. when part of the muffin he was eating became lodged in his throat. As Jason began having difficulty breathing, the classroom teacher grabbed the radio in the classroom and relayed the message that a child was choking in the classroom. The teacher began to perform the Heimlich maneuver on Jason without success.

About 15 seconds after the radio call went out, Mrs. Pickering arrived in the classroom. While the teacher escorted the other students out of the classroom, Mrs. Pickering began to attend to Jason.

“I told him, ‘I’m going to put my arm around you and put my fist up underneath your rib cage,” Mrs. Pickering remembers. “I’m just going to push a couple of times, it’s going to come up, and you’ll be able to breathe again.”

“I was really scared and I knew my friends were worried,” Jason recalls. “I was afraid I was going to die. But when Mrs. Pickering came down, I was relieved. I knew she was going to save me.”

It took three thrusts of the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the blockage, but as soon as his airway was clear, Jason began breathing and the color returned to his face.

“I thank Mrs. Pickering for saving my life,” Jason said gratefully.

While Mrs. Pickering is certainly a hero, credit also has to go to the classroom teachers who knew exactly what to do in an emergency situation and to Jason’s classmates who quickly exited the classroom when directed to, and then quietly and patiently waited in the hallway.