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Crystal Lake School District 47 playground supervisor saves choking student

Gina Millar
Gina Millar

Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 officials are applauding a fifth-grade student and playground supervisor whose quick thinking saved another student’s life last week.

A group of West Elementary School fifth-graders sat around a cafeteria table Tuesday, laughing at what they believed was one of their schoolmate’s jokes.

But 10-year-old Alex Edwards, who was seated nearby, thought the boy was acting strangely.

“He said, ‘If you’re choking, bang on the table,’ said Alex’s dad, Ken Edwards. “And Alex right away alerted the lunchroom mom. She ran over right away and gave the boy the Heimlich maneuver.”

Playground supervisor Gina Millar saved the boy, who was choking on nachos.

In addition to being a playground supervisor, Millar is a crossing guard before and after school. She just celebrated her 10th year with District 47, said Denise Barr, the district’s coordinator of community relations.

Playground supervisors are required to undergo CPR training every two years, so when Millar realized what was happening, she sprang to action.

“I think that anybody who was there would have done something,” Millar said.

After Millar performed the Heimlich maneuver on the boy, she had another employee walk with him to the nurse’s office.

“We heard Mrs. Millar call for our nurse and say, ‘I’ve got a choking situation in the lunchroom,’ ” administrative assistant Jen Schoepel said.

However, the nurse wasn’t needed, and after a quick checkup, the boy returned to the cafeteria to finish his lunch, Schoepel said.

“You get that panic feeling, and that was my first inclination, too, was to get up and run, but I knew the situation was in good hands, and she’s trained for this,” Schoepel said.

Likewise, Alex remembered an important lesson from his father when the boy and an unknown friend alerted Millar.

“Don’t panic. Find out what needs to be done,” Ken Edwards said. “He did it, and I’m so proud of him.”

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