A Walla Walla High School senior saved her teacher’s life when she noticed the woman was bent over, turning red and unable to breathe in the middle of class.
Mariam Hart used the Heimlich maneuver on Julie Laufenburg, who had stood up, grabbed her neck and weakly asked for help in a raspy voice, according to a news release.
Laufenburg, a fine arts teacher and department head, had been teaching her 3rd period Advanced Placement art class when she started choking.
“I started to lose track of what was going on,” Laufenburg said in the news release of the Thursday incident. “I was trying to get air, but couldn’t breathe. I definitely needed assistance.”
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Hart is a cadet major and operations officer in the school’s JROTC, or Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. She has extensive first aid training through the program, and is certified in administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation through the American Red Cross.
“It was 15 seconds of intense adrenaline,” said Hart. “Something really bad could have happened, but because of being prepared, it didn’t go badly.”
On noticing that the teacher was in trouble, Hart got up from her desk and let her training and instincts take over.
The 5-foot-2 student was able to wrap her arms around her taller teacher and perform several abdominal thrusts to clear Laufenburg’s airway, the school district reported.
“She has always demonstrated tremendous leadership skills,” Laufenburg said. “I’m so thankful she was there for me.”