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Off-duty Bellevue lifeguard saves choking girl at Kirkland restaurant

Pictured left to right: Kirkland Lt. Mark Anderson, Kirkland Firefighter Ed Ulrich, Ailee Donald, Bellevue lifeguard George Meier, Kirkland Fire Chief Kevin Nalder, Firefighter Dustin Smith and Firefighter Ryan Sheaffer. - Courtesy city of Kirkland
Pictured left to right: Kirkland Lt. Mark Anderson, Kirkland Firefighter Ed Ulrich, Ailee Donald, Bellevue lifeguard George Meier, Kirkland Fire Chief Kevin Nalder, Firefighter Dustin Smith and Firefighter Ryan Sheaffer.
— image credit: Courtesy city of Kirkland

While celebrating her friend’s birthday at Plaza Garcia Family Mexican Restaurant in Kirkland, 11-year-old Ailee Donald knew something was terribly wrong when she accidentally swallowed a piece of hard candy.

Almost instantly, she showed the universal choking sign (hands clutched to the throat). Michelle Geraghty, the mother of Sarah, the “birthday girl,” observed a scared look on Ailee’s face and immediately started the Heimlich maneuver on the 11-year girl.

As Geraghty applied the standard five thrusts to the girl’s abdomen and five blows to her back, restaurant patron and off-duty Bellevue lifeguard George Meier took notice from several tables away.

Meier’s mom took notice too and announced to the crowd that her son knew how to perform first aid to a choking victim. His uncle called 9-1-1 as Meier approached the gathering, calmly introduced himself to Ailee and asked permission to begin the Heimlich maneuver.

After administering the Heimlich, what appeared to be food came out of the girl’s mouth, which restored her airway. The candy remained in her throat and melted by the time she was transported to the hospital.

Kirkland Fire Chief Kevin Nalder and the Fire Station 25 fire aid crew who responded to the 9-1-1 call and Ailee reunited at Plaza Garcia on Aug. 19 to honor Meier for his heroism.

Meier received a certificate of recognition from the Kirkland Fire Department and a handmade thank you card from Ailee.

Meier has been a lifeguard for the city of Bellevue for more than four years and is a trained first aid and CPR provider. He credits his training to the American Red Cross and the “on-the-job” training he receives for his lifeguard job.

Ailee said she was familiar with the Heimlich maneuver because her step sister had given it to someone. She and Sarah Geraghty plan to take a babysitting class so they can learn more about first aid.

To register for a first aid/CPR class, visit www.kirklandparks.net or call the Kirkland Parks & Community Services Department at (425) 587-3336.

 

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