I adore my little brother. I believe I was about 9 years old when he (3 y/o) nearly choked to death. We were playing in my cousin’s bedroom and decided we were hungry. We ran to the fridge and grabbed some grapes. Back into our pirate land we went. We thought it would be a great idea to have a grape eating contest. Who could stuff the most number of grapes in their mouth?

Stuff, stuff away…

Laughter and major drooling ensued giving rise to even more laughter and now a little bit of snarfing out the nose.

That is until we noticed Jean-Philippe not making any sounds, convulsing like he was trying to vomit, and the look of terror in his eyes.

I realized he was choking and started screaming for my aunt. This was followed by grabbing him by the arm and dragging his body up the stairs meeting my aunt halfway who was running down. She grabbed him and told me to go call 9-1-1. Instead of running to the phone, I stood there paralyzed by fear. I watched my aunt barrel hug him from behind and push into his stomach; what I now know to be the abdominal thrust maneuver (once called the Heimlich Maneuver). She did this several times. I watched the grapes and a bunch of liquid fly out of his mouth. When my brother gasped for air I did the same and started crying. My aunt had just saved my brother!

This day inspired me to learn more about first aid and CPR. In middle school I joined the Los Angeles County Junior Lifeguard program where I learned many life saving skills. I got certified in First Aid and CPR as soon as I was old enough (14 y/o), became a lifeguard at the age of 18, and an EMT in 2000. I wanted to be ready when the time to save a life came. I highly recommend that everyone receive some sort of first aid and CPR/AED training. You, too, could save a life!

Thank you to my aunt for saving my little brother!