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Fifth-grader saves choking classmate



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Abby Knop (left) and Rebecca Wood. (click for larger version)
January 19, 2011 - A call to 9-1-1 from Clear Lake Elementary was avoided on Tuesday, Jan. 11 thanks to a quick thinking fifth-grader who saw a friend in need.

Abby Knop, 10, performed the Heimlich maneuver and saved fellow fifth-grade student Rebecca Wood from choking to death after a chicken nugget lodged in her throat.

Wood was laughing at a joke her friend told her when the nugget she was eating got stuck in her throat.

Wood said she tried to take a breath of air, but couldn't, so she stood up and tried to motion to people around her that she had something stuck in her throat and was choking.

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"I tried to tap on someone to get them to realize that I was choking," Wood said. "It was all in slow motion and I thought no one would figure out that I was choking."

Knop, who was sitting directly across from Wood at the lunch table, immediately sprang into action.

"Everyone started panicking and I said that it was too late to go around the table and give her the Heimlich, so I went over the table and started pushing on her stomach," Knop said.

With Knop's help, Wood was able to take a couple breaths of air before she was able to dislodge the nugget.

"I felt scared and I thought this was going to be it, or since Abby was helping me, it might not be it," Wood said. "I was thinking that I shouldn't give up because Abby was helping me...so I was able to get just enough air to gag."

"After that I was really, really hyper because I was glad I made it," Wood added.

Knop said that she read how to perform the Heimlich maneuver after reading an article in the Leader about a student choking at Oxford Middle School.

"My mom told me what is was, so once I saw her face red, it all came back to me that I should do the Heimlich so she could breathe," Knop said.

Clear Lake Elementary principal Suzanne Hannatt called it "fast thinking in dealing with the right situation at the right time."

The incident reminded all the students to go and seek help from an adult if something doesn't appear normal. "Luckily she knew what to do because she was right there with her," Hannatt said.

"I'm just happy my friend is alive because I wouldn't want to see my friend die right in front of me because I would be really sad about it," Knop said.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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