In Seconds Her Face Turned Blue

As friends and family members enjoyed an outdoor barbecue on a beautiful spring day in Delano, Minnesota, things took a turn for the worst in a split second.  While eating, Josh and Sarah Kiecker noticed that their one-year-old daughter, Reese, was no longer breathing.  In a sudden panic, her parents began patting her back and looking for the obstruction in her mouth and throat.  As Reese started turning blue, her mother desperately asked if anyone had training or knew what to do.


Luckily, Derek Horeis, a friend of Josh and Sarah, was there and ready to help.

“It took me a split second to figure out what was going on, but I quickly felt relief because I knew the steps to follow based on training from American Red Cross,” says Horeis.

Horeis applied a couple quick pops of pressure below the sternum (with a protruding thumb), which released the obstruction.  As Reese began to cry and breathe in, everyone was relieved to see the blue color leave her face and her lips regain color.

“What I now realize is that the training was a true gift,” says Horeis.  “It allowed me to step into the situation with knowledge and some confidence that I could make a positive difference.”

Because of his extraordinary life-saving action, Horeis is being nominated for an American Red Cross Certificate of Merit. This national recognition is given to every day people who save or sustain a life using skills learned in Red Cross training.  Honorees receive an award signed by the President of the United States and a medal that bears the Red Cross logo and the words, “Lifesaving Award of Merit.”

Horeis’s life-saving actions are example of how Red Cross training can become crucial in emergency situations. Click here to learn more and to find classes near you.

Story by Shannon Lewis/Communications Intern/American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region. Photo provided courtesy of Derek Horeis.

Back Blows and Abominal Thrusts Save Lives

Red Cross honorees from left to right: Safia El Hmamsi, Kathryn Majkrzak, Jena Novak, Roberta Chie, Alisha Tomsen, and Donna Sanderson. Not pictured: David Kucera and Jenny Rassavon. Photo courtesy of Dakota Communities.

Have you choked on food? Ever needed a back blow to dislodge it? Well, we’re happy to report that if the folks around you when or if it happens are trained like those at Dakota Communities, then you’re likely to get help that could save your life.

Recently, we recognized eight Dakota Communities employees who quickly and adeptly used their Red Cross training to help people at their residences for adults with developmental disabilities who were choking, mostly on food objects. From sausage or cheese to a carrot or granola, the trained employees used back blows and in some cases abdominal thrusts to expel food matter from people who were choking. Such life-threatening emergencies can happen anywhere, anytime. Go here to find a Red Cross class in your area and to learn life-saving skills.

And thank you Dakota Communities!

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