If someone had asked Anna Reid, 15, of Westfield, if she remembered everything she'd learned in a Red Cross babysitting training class she'd taken four years ago, she probably would've said no. But, when she needed it most, that life-saving information all came back to her.
What began as an ordinary August day for the soon-to-be sophomore took a dramatic turn at lunchtime when the 3-year-old girl she was watching began to choke.
"We had gone to the library that morning and I had warmed up pizza for lunch," Reid said. "The cheese was really melty and gooey and Lia took a big bite and all of sudden she couldn't breathe. Her face turned red and she had a shocked look on her face. She couldn't even cough. Once I saw that I hit her on the back five times between her shoulder blades but that didn't help."
Reid said she then began the abdominal thrusts, also known as the Heimlich maneuver, that eventually dislodged the melted cheese from Lia Simitz's throat.
"The pizza popped out and her coloring returned to normal," Reid said. "The entire thing happened in less than a minute; it was pretty shocking. Lia looked a little surprised but after a few minutes she was acting like herself. I was so anxious for a while after it happened; it was such a random thing."
Reid said she then called her mother who works with Lia's mom to let them know what had happened.
"I’m certainly proud of her," said Reid's mom, Lisa. "She’s just glad that she knew what to do and was able to do it."
Lisa said Anna is being "quite humble about the whole thing" but Lisa has encouraged her daughter to share her story to raise awareness that babysitters do need training.
"You can't prepare or expect that to happen but by taking the classes, you can know what to do should that happen," Reid said. "It comes on instantly, but I knew what I needed to do in that moment."
It was Angela Ko, Reid's Girl Scout leader at the time, who took the troop to the Red Cross in Westfield for a babysitting training class.
"Many girls took this class when they turned 11 to acquire basic childcare and life-saving skills before starting to babysit," said Ko, who added that it was her co-leader who was in charge of training programs at the Red Cross at the time.
Reid said she told her mom later that day that if someone had randomly asked her how to save someone by using the procedure she said she was not sure she would have remembered, but in the heat of the moment, it all kicked in.
Upcoming training classes will take place from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8 and Saturday, Oct. 6 at the at 321 Elm St. and from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22 and Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Summit chapter, located at 695 Springfield Ave. The cost of the class is $85 per participant. To register for training class, visit the Red Cross website.