Porter County Career Center Student Uses Her Skills and Training to Save Classmate’s Life

Porter County Career Center Student Uses Her Skills and Training to Save Classmate’s Life

Annabell Folsom used the Heimlich Maneuver to save a life a mere week after being certified in it.

The Hebron High School Senior was taking a bus to a class field trip when the student behind her, Hayley, began to choke. Annabell ignored fear and doubt to perform life saving first aid.

Both girls are a part of the Health Occupations Vocational Program run at the Porter County Career and Technical Center. Annabell wants to be a nurse. The vocational program is preparing her for the lessons she will take in college as well as the experiences she will have throughout her life. At the end of the year, students in the Health Occupations program will graduate as Certified Nurse’s Assistants.

They all took their certifications in CPR and first aide last week. Annabell demonstrated her ability to perform the Heimlich Maneuver in a classroom. She proved it on that bus.

“I didn’t expect to have to perform something like that so soon after learning it,” Annabell said. “So it was scary. But I felt prepared because of the training I received. The Career Center is incredible, the staff is incredible, and my vocational teacher is incredible.”

Jon Groth, Director and Principal of the Center, organized a trip to a Notre Dame hockey game for his students as a reward for their excellent behavior and grades. They split into two buses. It was a long ride, so the teachers on Annabell’s bus passed out candy canes as a snack.

Annabell had finished her own candy when she heard struggling behind her.

Hayley had her hands clasped around her neck in the universal sign for choking. Annabell clarified before beginning the Heimlich Maneuver, and called out to alert the teachers.

“It was an adrenaline rush. I knew she was in danger, the bus was really dark, and no one else was paying attention. So I knew I was the only one who knew she was choking and could help.”

It took 4-5 thrusts to dislodge the candy from her friend’s throat. At the third one, Annabell had a moment of doubt. She wondered if the Heimlich was working. Her confidence in her training pushed her to keep trying, and the airway was cleared.

Groth described her as a hero.

“I am grateful and gracious that he said that,” Annabell said, but insists that Hayley was surrounded by people who could help. She was merely the first one there.

Modest, for someone who earlier that very day was presented the Outstanding Student Award for her leadership skills and strong work ethic.

“I would strongly recommend everyone becoming first aide certified. It covers every situation you could possibly help someone with, at least until the paramedics arrive. It would be terrible if you knew someone needed help and you couldn’t.”