Young Student's Life is Saved After Choking in School Lunchroom

AUGUST 21, 2006 -- POSTED AT 9:00 P.M. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- Like many schools across Region 8, Philadelphia Elementary in Jonesboro started off the school year Monday. But at Philadelphia, the lunchroom wasn't so normal, for moments as one student choked on her food. Eight year old Sierra Holland was enjoying lunch at her first day back to school, when suddenly she began to choke.

"I put my hands on my throat and did the choke signal," says Holland.

Only seconds later, help was at her side. Kim Anderson, the School Librarian, was one of many teachers on lunch room duty. She immediately rushed over.

"She came over and she squeezed my stomach and pulled me up, then I went down and the hot dog came up," says Holland.

Thankfully, the incident was resolved peacefully. Sierra's family was called, and they admitted, they were frightened when they first heard the news.

"It could have turned out really tragic. If the teachers hadn't been aware, didn't stay cool, do their training, and pay attention to the kids in the lunch room, she could have sat there and choked and nobody notice, then it might have been really tragic. She could have died today," says David Klasky, Sierra's Uncle.

The family wanted to make sure this act of heroism didn't go unnoticed, so we caught up with Ms. Anderson, the librarian who helped save Sierra's life.

"When we realized what was happening, several of us went to her and I happened to get to her first and performed the Heimlich maneuver," says Kim Anderson, the Philadelphia Elementary Librarian.

Ms. Anderson is someone this family now says they are extremely grateful for, but she says she was just doing her job.

"It's one of those things where you just react and you get nervous or you get scared after the fact. It all sinks in what just happened," says Anderson.

Although this was a scary way to start off the school year for any young child, the faculty at Philadelphia Elementary wants parents to know they have their eyes open and are ready for another school year.