A 10-year-old boy has been described as a hero after he used the Heimlich manoeuvre to save his little sister’s life when she choked on a piece of Lego.
Harrison Walmsley, from Blackburn, Lancashire, did not hesitate to perform the life-saving technique when six-year-old Eva barged into his room crying and struggling to breathe.
He said he knew what he needed to do after learning the first aid technique at his school in March.
“It was terrifying when I had to put the knowledge I’d learned into action but I’m happy I was able to do it all right,” he said.
“I just wanted Eva to be alright and be safe.
“I knew what I needed to do. She was choking and I had to act.”
Harrison managed to dislodge the Lego by hitting Eva’s back multiple times before doing the Heimlich manoeuvre, which is described by the NHS as a short sharp burst of pressure to the abdomen to clear a blockage in the throat.
Harrison’s parents have praised their son for his quick-thinking in stepping in to help his sister.
Dad Brian Walmsley, 37, said: “It was a split second decision that saved her life - I’m bursting with pride with how Harrison acted.
“He’s amazingly calm and managed to think about what he needed to do without panicking.”
The children were playing in their rooms on the evening of 17 August when Eva got into difficulty after putting a piece of Lego in her mouth.
Harrison suddenly screamed that Eva was choking and the terrified parents rushed upstairs to find her shaking and crying.
“She was completely red in the face and crying - it was terrifying,” Mr Walmsley, a framework manager, explains.
By that point, Harrison had already performed the technique on his sister and she was recovering after the choking episode.
“We checked if she was okay and it was clear she wasn’t choking anymore, but we took her to the hospital anyway,” Mr Walmsley adds.
“Thankfully everything was alright and the worst was behind us.
“But in that moment it was just terrifying - seeing your child like that is every parent’s worst nightmare.”
Watch: Police officer saves woman’s life by performing Heimlich manouevre.
Harrison learned about the life-saving technique at his school St Mary’s RC Primary School in Osbaldeston, just before pupils were sent home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Walmsley believes things may have been very different if his son hadn’t attended the first aid course.
“I'm so grateful,” he says. “It’s so easy for a child to choke and it can happen in the blink of an eye.
“But it’s fantastic that the school commissioned the first aid training and even more remarkable that Harrison learned it, and remembered it, all these months on.”As a reward for his heroic actions, Harrison’s parents said Father Christmas will be “extra generous” this year.
And as for sister Eva, the Mr Walmsley says she’s learnt her lesson in terms of eating any more plastic toys.
“We’re happy and relaxed now, but Eva is a bit embarrassed by it all,” he said.
“She’s not going to be putting any more plastic toys in her mouth again.
“But she’s safe and she’s fine now which is all that matters.”
What to do if someone is choking
According to the NHS if choking is severe, the person won’t be able to speak, cry, cough or breathe, and without help, they could eventually become unconscious.
The first course of action is to apply blows to the back.
To carry out a back blow on an adult or child over one year old, the NHS advises:
Stand behind them and slightly to one side. Support their chest with one hand. Lean them forward so the object blocking their airway will come out of their mouth, rather than moving further down.
Give up to five sharp blows between their shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. The heel is between the palm of your hand and your wrist.
Check if the blockage has cleared.
If not, give up to five abdominal thrusts.
To carry out an abdominal thrust, which should NOT be performed on babies under one year old or pregnant women, the NHS advises:
Stand behind the person who’s choking.
Place your arms around their waist and bend them forward.
Clench 1 fist and place it right above their belly button.
Put the other hand on top of your fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards.
Repeat this movement up to five times.
If the person's airway is still blocked after trying back blows and abdominal thrusts, get help immediately:
Call 999 and ask for an ambulance. Tell the 999 operator the person is choking.
Continue with the cycles of five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until help arrives.
Additional reporting SWNS.