SKOWHEGAN — A sixth-grader may have saved the life of an 84-year-old man when she performed the Heimlich maneuver on him as he choked on some liver in a restaurant.
Ann-Marie Perkins learned the technique just three weeks earlier in a Girl Scout training session.
Perkins, 12, was having lunch on Feb. 14 with her mother, Ruth Perkins, and her grandmother, Shirley Trial, at Dave’s Restaurant in Thomaston last Saturday when a man at a nearby table started coughing and choking.
The store owner started hitting the man on the back, and restaurant patrons began asking if anyone knew the Heimlich maneuver.
Ruth Perkins knew her daughter was scared.
“I could see the fear on her face. … I looked over at her and said, `Do you want to do it?”‘
While two people held the man up, Perkins did as she had been taught. She placed herself behind the victim — one leg planted between his, her arms clasped around his middle, and a fist beneath the breastbone.
“I had never practiced it before. It was my first time. I was nervous,” Perkins said. “I was just afraid that it might not work, that I might do it wrong.”
But it worked.
“She worked on me and I got rid of it. I was choking for three or four minutes. I was in agony before she got hold of me,” said William Russell. “She did a good job.”
Dr. Gail Gibson, Perkins’ Scout leader, was proud.
“In Girl Scouts, we try to prepare them for life and to help others. This seemed a good way, by learning CPR and the Heimlich,” she said. “I was thrilled to death. I was very proud of her.”