“I knew something wasn’t right”

10-month-old Drew Cohen

Corey Cohen didn’t think twice about putting her son, Drew, in his stroller with a handful of Cheerios. They were at the doctor’s office, and the 10-month-old was perfectly content to enjoy a snack while his mom chatted with the pediatrictian.

Suddenly, Drew began gagging. Corey lifted him from his stroller and noticed Drew was trying to cough but couldn’t.

“My ‘mommy mode’ kicked in, and I knew something wasn’t right,” she said.

Corey, who sits on the board of the American Red Cross in Union County, had been trained years ago in CPR and First Aid, but didn’t feel confident enough to tend to her choking son. She frantically handed Drew to the doctor, who placed the baby on her forearm and delivered several blows between his shoulder blades.

“We were both talking to him saying, ‘Breathe! Breathe!’” Corey recalled. “I can remember leaning down by him as the doctor was hitting his back and seeing the strained expression on his frozen face.”

Corey watched in horror as Drew’s entire body had begun changing color. After 30 seconds and no improvement, the doctor threw open the door and called for help.

“As the doctor stepped out into the hallway, I watched Drew’s limp, purple body flop over her forearm,” Corey said.

She remembers worrying about having to tell her 4-year-old daughter that Drew had passed. She remembers panicking at that thought because her children adore each other. She remembers wondering, “How could all this happen because of a Cheerio?”

Fortunately, after what Corey said seemed like hours, she heard the sweetest sound: Drew began to cry. He regained his color and reached for his mother’s embrace.

“I grabbed him up and hugged him, feeling like I was going to faint from relief,” Corey said.

While she was “a complete wreck” for the rest of the day, Corey decided she wanted to tell everyone about what happened to Drew so they would have the chance to prepare themselves for an emergency.

“I thought if it could save it just one child, it would obviously be worth it,” she said.

Corey organized an American Red Cross CPR class for people who hadn’t been trained or, like her, who needed a refresher.

“Choking is one of those things you are always aware of, especially with young children, but it’s also one of those things you think will never happen to you or your child,” she said. “To think someone could actually die from eating seems overwhelmingly unbelievable, but I now know that is completely the opposite. It’s very possible and very real.”

Get trained


Grandson Saves Choking Grandfather

This story is from redcross.org

When 12-year-old Landon Tucker took American Red Cross training in First Aid and CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), little did he know he would use that training to help his grandfather when he choked while eating breakfast.

Click the image to learn what to do when you see someone choking
Carl McGowan and his grandson were home alone recently, enjoying breakfast, when a piece of sausage became lodged in McGowan’s throat. His wife Martha and a neighbor, who happens to be a paramedic, were both at work.

McGowan knew his grandson had taken the Red Cross classes at school, and asked Tucker if he knew what to do. Tucker said he had been trained, but had never actually performed the skills on anyone.

“I told him now would be a good time to try it,” Carl said. “He was scared. He tried to help me and was successful after several tries.”

McGowan credits Tucker with saving his life and is thankful his grandson had access to Red Cross training. “Being trained is very important,” Carl said. “Landon saved me. I want to thank him for everything he did.”

The Red Cross has information available for download on how to help someone – adult, child or infant – who is choking, and how to perform back blows and abdominal thrusts.

The Red Cross also offers classes in First Aid, CPR and the use of an AED (automated external defibrillator), and recommends that at least one person in every household be trained. People can also take Red Cross babysitter and lifeguard training, learn how to swim, take training on first aid for use in wilderness and remote settings, sports safety training, even first aid for pets. Classes are available for individuals as well as for businesses and organizations.

According to a Red Cross survey, many have witnessed someone choking. One person in ten surveyed reported they needed help themselves because they had choked on something. Most often, 57 percent of the time, a family member came to their aid, while in 30 percent of the instances the people had to help themselves. The survey also revealed that most choking incidents occur at home, with a high percentage also occurring in a restaurant.

This year there’s still plenty of time to resolve to protect yourself and your loved ones by taking a Red Cross class. Landon Tucker and his grandfather understand the importance of First Aid training firsthand and now know what to do when an emergency occurs.