Liz Larson (right), with her mother, Michelle, and sister, Katie.
(On Feb. 5, 2011, we once again offer Super Sitters. Click the photo for more info. The story below illustrates the workshop's value. To read it all, click "more" below.)
On a summer evening in 2010 at the home of Michelle and Joe Larson on Snoqualmie Ridge, a teen-ager became a lifesaver.
It was a little after 7 o’clock. Joe was out on a jog, and Michelle was next door with a neighbor. Their daughters – Liz, 13, and Katie, 11 – were inside, along with a 10-year-old friend from Issaquah who was staying at their home and who was in the care of Liz. They were watching TV when a crisis erupted.
The 10-year-old had popped into her mouth a hard piece of butterscotch candy that was the size of a quarter. She accidentally swallowed it, and it became caught in her throat. She began coughing and choking, and as her eyes watered between gasps, she tried to scream.
Seeing that the girl was in distress, Liz immediately got up, put her arms around the girl and performed the Heimlich maneuver. This dislodged the candy and the rest of the contents of her stomach, creating a mess on the floor, but the girl was OK. Shocked, Liz’ sister Katie ran next door to tell their mother what had happened. When Michelle rushed back, the 10-year-old was drinking water in the bathroom, and Liz was calmly cleaning the floor. Liz looked up and told her mom, “Good thing I took the babysitting class at Encompass.”
The class, called Super Sitters, is a Saturday workshop for teens from 11 to 17. It is taught three times a year. In just six hours, the teens learn a wide array of information. Topics include parent expectations, first aid, child development, personal safety, nutrition, home security, fire prevention, telephone tips, toys and activities, infant care and – yes – the Heimlich maneuver. Over the past five years, more than 225 local teen-agers have completed this class at Encompass.
One of those teens was Liz Larson, who had taken the class two years before the choking incident. “I learned a lot of ‘What if something happens?’ stuff, and they gave us a great guidebook that I take with me when I go on sitting jobs,” says Liz, who babysat several times a week in the summer of 2010 to save money for a coveted trip to Nevada.
Liz is a “level-headed kid,” says Michelle, her mom. Her daughter has “a quiet pride” about the choking incident. “But she’s not boastful. Something came up, and she knew how to handle it. She just felt like this is what she was trained for.”
Michelle is grateful to Encompass for the class and “for all the great things you do in our community,” she says. “It does make a big difference.” Meanwhile, Liz is enjoying eighth grade at Snoqualmie Middle School. She’s active in volleyball and soccer. She also knows that she has saved a life.
Click here for more information on Super Sitters!