Caregiver performs Heimlich maneuver on 3-year-old

Christine June, Story and photo
415th Base Support Battalion

***image1***Today, 3-year-old Alvia Daniels plays with flash cards as if the events of June 22 didn’t happen.
“My first reaction was …‘oh, my goodness she’s choking,’ which is basically what I said,” said Jennifer L. Disselhorst, child and youth program assistant, 415th Base Support Battalion Child Development Center on Kleber Kaserne, who witnessed the incident. “I was … I was just looking … going through my mind what to do because I just had this CPR class and then that’s when Ms. Liz (Rivers) jumped to action and did the Heimlich maneuver.”

Ms. Liz, pre-school room lead, was covering ratio in the toddler room and sitting opposite of Alvia with two other care givers and 12 children were having a family-style lunch when Ms. Jennifer yelled, “She’s choking.”

“I jumped up, ran around and lifted Alvia because her arms were flagging in the air and she wasn’t making any sound,” said Ms. Liz, who has more than 11 years of child care experience, six of those years has been at the Kleber CDC. “I did the Heimlich maneuver and nothing happened at first, but the second time, the pineapple flew across the room.”

The Kleber CDC staff and Avila’s grandparents, Capt. David Beaman, 37th Transportation Command plans officer and Rhonda Tolle-Beaman, Installation Access Control System registrar, believe that Ms. Liz saved Avila’s life.

However, Ms. Liz simply says, “I know what I did was necessary because she wasn’t breathing.”
The Heimlich maneuver is part of the annual CPR training that each employee at an Army child care center is required to have, according to Tim Cook, Kleber CDC director.

“We take these trainings seriously, and I’m thankful that the requirement is there,” said Ms. Liz, who her preschoolers call “Grandma.”

“I believe that I speak for all the staff at Kleber CDC when I say that we are not only trained to take care of the children of our military members, but we also feel that it is a privilege, and we enjoy what we do,” she said.

The Heimlich maneuver was developed by Dr. Henry J. Heimlich, M.D., from Cincinnati, who first described it in 1974 as an emergency rescue for preventing suffocation when a victim’s airway becomes blocked by an object.