Principal Saves Life Of Student

Posted: November 12, 1987

The quick actions of a school principal saved the life of a 13-year-old Drexel Hill Middle School student who was choking in the school cafeteria last week.

The student, Michael Ennis, ran up to the principal, Charles Granger, when he began choking on a piece of cheeseburger at lunchtime.

"He was in bad shape when he came over," Granger said. "As soon as it dawned on me, I turned him around and started the Heimlich maneuver," Granger said.

"It makes you feel good that you were there and could help someone," he said. However, Granger was quick to point out that any one of the staff could have done it. "We're trained to do it," he said. "When you're working with kids, it's part of the territory."

The Upper Darby School District trains all its administrative and secretarial staff in first-aid techniques, such as the Heimlich maneuver, said Granger, who learned the lifesaving procedure during a district-sponsored workshop.

"I spend a lot of time in the cafeteria," Granger said. "I believe that the more visible I am in the school, the better off it will be. I was lucky enough to be down there the day we had a problem."

Elaine Brown, a home economics teacher who was in the cafeteria last Thursday when the incident took place said Granger was calm and reassuring.

Granger emphasized the importance of learning the Heimlich maneuver, adding that he had used it before to help his wife when she was choking. "It can happen to anyone," he said.

A sign with instructions on the Heimlich maneuver is posted in the school cafeteria, Brown said.

Ennis, who said he had seen the procedure on television, agreed that he would not soon forget it.

Granger's efforts earned him a small plastic-foam trophy that says "Hero" and is topped with a plastic cheeseburger. It was given to him by a group of teachers.

To perform the Heimlich maneuver on a conscious adult: Stand behind the victim; bring your arms around the victim's waist; make a fist with one hand and place your fist (thumbside) against the victim's stomach in the midline just above the navel and well below the rib margin; grasp your fist with your other hand; press into the stomach with a quick, upward thrust; repeat the thrust if necessary.

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