News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


17-year-old Kelli Groves quick-thinking and brave

Kelli Groves said she was nervous about intervening to save a 2-day-old infant's life Saturday afternoon at the Somerville Piggly Wiggly.

Brooklyn Savannah was choking and turning blue, her mother, Misty Jennings, said. The two, along with the baby's grandmother, Deborah Massey, stopped at the store on the way home from the hospital.

The cry for help and hearing "My baby's choking. My baby's choking," sent the 17-year-old Brewer High School student into action.

Two weeks earlier, she had learned the Heimlich maneuver in health class. That's the highly effective technique that Dr. Henry J. Heimlich popularized as an alternative to the gut - but wrong — reaction to pound a choking victim on the back.

But she learned more. She learned that on infants, the balled up fist won't work. She also learned that if the victim is breathing, performing the Heimlich maneuver might not be the best first aid.

She made the decision not to perform the traditional Heimlich maneuver but to place the baby in her lap and gently pat its back. She knew to be gentle.

That worked. But if it had not, she was prepared to use her fingers under the baby's tiny rib cage to gently force out any obstruction.

The Spirit of America Festival has the Dr. Henry J. Heimlich Humanitarian Award that it gives from time to time. Next year, officials might consider awarding it to Kelli for her heroic action, not because she used the maneuver, but for exercising extraordinary judgment and applying the right help.

Reflecting on what she did, Kelli said, "It made me feel really good."

It's an awesome thing to save a life.

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