An elderly woman who found herself in a potential life or death situation has been saved by the unlikeliest of heroes.
Grandmother Mary Oldford had been babysitting her two grandchildren, Simon and Levi, in the Canadian city of St. Johns when the unthinkable happened.
After biting into a grilled cheese sandwich, a thick piece of the bread’s crust became lodged in Mary’s throat – panic began to set in.
Unable to dislodge the blockage, Mary began gasping and clutching at her throat which alerted the children to the fact that something was terribly wrong.
Speaking to Yahoo News, Mary’s grandson Simon remembered saying “Nanny, are you OK?” as he watched his grandmother struggle to breathe.
Realising that there may not be much time left, Mary motioned for Simon to walk closer before grabbing the nine-year-old boy’s arms and placing them in position to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre*.
In the brief moments before Simon attempted the manoeuvre, also known as abdominal thrusts, Mary told reporters that she feared for the worst.
“I don’t know what I would have done. I don’t know if I could have got them to go get a neighbour, but I mean, that’s not easy either when you can’t talk.”
Despite being only nine years old, Simon actually had previous training in first aid thanks to his forward-thinking parents, Amy and Jeremy.
Although panicked, young Simon summoned his previous knowledge and began to squeeze on his grandmother’s stomach while his younger brother, Levi, shouted words of encouragement.
After six squeeze attempts without success, Simon slapped his grandmother on the back before reverting back to the squeezing technique.
Thankfully, six more forceful squeezing attempts from Simon managed to dislodge the blockage and Simon was overcome with relief as he heard his grandmother finally take a full breath.
Simon claims that the experience was the scariest moment of his life, but his grandmother noted how calmly the young boy was in the situation despite his obvious fears.
“You’re a hero. You saved me,” Mary told her grandson.
“You were so calm, Simon, so calm. I knew he wasn’t underneath, but he was calm. And that was the biggest surprise to me, was how anybody could be so calm.”
Following the scary incident, Simons’s mother, Amy, spoke about the importance of teaching children the basics of first aid.
“We always worry about them choking on grapes, and that’s always our fear as parents, but in this case, he had to help the caregiver.”
Despite fanfare amongst friends, Simon remains coy about his heroic exploits.
However, he jokingly asked his grandmother to refrain from eating anything unless there are other grown-ups in the house.
When asked how much he loves his grandmother, Simon was quick with his reply.
“To the stars and moon and back,” he said.
*The Heimlich manoeuvre is no longer considered the best way to assist with choking, in Australia it is recommended to use a combination of back blows and chest thrusts.