Lifestyle

Life-saving sitter: Class helps Snoqualmie teen react to choking

Liz Larson, right, beams as she describes how information about the Heimlich maneuver from an Encompass babysitting class helped her prevent a 10-year-old in her care from chocking. Behind Liz are her mother, Michelle, and sister, Katie. - Courtesy Photo
Liz Larson, right, beams as she describes how information about the Heimlich maneuver from an Encompass babysitting class helped her prevent a 10-year-old in her care from chocking. Behind Liz are her mother, Michelle, and sister, Katie.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

On a breezy summer evening in the middle of July at the home of Michelle and Joe Larson on Snoqualmie Ridge, a teen-ager became a lifesaver.

It was about 7 p.m. Joe was out on a jog, and Michelle was next door with a neighbor. Their daughters, Liz, 13, and Katie, 11, were inside, along with a 10-year-old friend from Issaquah who was staying at their home and who was in the care of Liz. They were watching TV when a crisis erupted.

The 10-year-old had popped into her mouth a hard piece of butterscotch candy that was the size of a quarter. She accidentally swallowed it, and it became caught in her throat. She began coughing and choking, and as her eyes watered between gasps, she started to scream.

Seeing that the girl was in distress, Liz immediately got up, put her arms around the girl and performed the Heimlich maneuver. This dislodged the candy and the rest of the contents of her stomach, creating a mess on the floor, but the girl was OK.

Shocked, Liz’ sister Katie ran next door to tell their mother what had happened. When Michelle rushed back, the 10-year-old was drinking water in the bathroom, and Liz was calmly cleaning the floor. Liz looked up and told her mom, “Good thing I took the babysitting class at Encompass.”

The class, called Babysitting 101 and previously known as Super Sitters, is a Saturday workshop for teens ages 11 to 17. It is taught three times a year, and the next installment is set for Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Encompass Main Campus, 1407 Boalch Ave. N.W., North Bend.

In just six hours, the teens learn a wide array of information. On Oct. 2, the trainer will be Sheila Davis of Marysville-based Bee Safe, who uses the Childcare and Babysitting Safety (CABS) curriculum. Topics include parent expectations, first aid, child development, personal safety, nutrition, home security, fire prevention, telephone tips, toys and activities, infant care and – yes – the Heimlich maneuver.

Over the past five years, more than 225 local teen-agers have completed this class at Encompass.

Now an eighth-grader at Snoqualmie Middle School, Liz Larson took the class in February 2009, when she was 11.

“I learned a lot of ‘What if something happens?’ stuff, and they gave us a great guidebook that I take with me when I go on sitting jobs,” says Liz, who babysat several times a week last summer to save money for a coveted trip to Nevada.

Liz is a “level-headed kid,” says Michelle, her mom. She notes that her daughter has “a quiet pride” about the choking incident. “But she’s not boastful. Something came up, and she knew how to handle it. She just felt like this is what she was trained for.”

Babysitting 101 costs $35 per teen. To register, contact Encompass at (425) 888-2777 or visit www.encompassnw.org.

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