Teacher goes extra mile on three R’s: reading, writing — rescue

Jim Stingl:

The way they see it, Sebastian Flynn and his second-grade teacher Debbie Groth are connected forever.

Saving someone’s life will do that.

A routine morning this week in Mrs. Groth’s classroom at Pershing Elementary School in West Milwaukee turned terrifying when Sebastian choked on a cracker during snack time. He couldn’t speak or breathe. The boy’s friend, Danny, noticed this and alerted the teacher.

After calling the office about the emergency, she spoke to the 7-year-old and explained she would get behind him and try to dislodge the cracker with the Heimlich maneuver. It was something she learned years ago and never had to use during her 18 years as a teacher.

She made a fist and pulled in and up just below the boy’s rib cage. Nothing happened.

“I’m going, ‘Oh my gosh, Debbie, you have to save this kid. You have to save this kid.’ I did it a second time. Nothing.”

Sixteen other students in Room 206 nervously watched, and a few ran into the hallway to summon more help.

“I know you’ve only got seconds, all that time with the oxygen not going to his brain. So I’m freaking out, but they don’t know that because I’m just in the zone. It’s all the adrenaline,” Mrs. Groth said.

Finally, on the third thrust, the cracker popped out.