One little boy is alive today thanks to the quick thinking of his mom—and the first aid training she received at her United Methodist church the week prior.
Today age 3, Reed was at a fast food restaurant a year and half ago with his mother, Delana Pilgrim, his two siblings and his grandmother. Pilgrim’s mom took Reed to the table with his meal and put some of the fruit in front of him so Pilgrim could get the rest of the meals.
“As I was bringing the last of the food to the table, I heard my mom say in a worried voice, ‘He’s choking! He’s choking, Delana!’”
However, Pilgrim’s church, Lowell Street UMC, Greenwood, had just offered first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation training not even a week earlier. Part of the training involved what to do if someone is choking and how to do the Heimlich maneuver, a lifesaving technique.
“Because I had just had the training, I didn’t freak out—I knew what to do. I acted,” Pilgrim said.
“I tried to get him out of the seat but I couldn’t, so I hit him twice in the back and dislodged a big old piece of strawberry and was able to get it out.”
Typically when she’s afraid, Pilgrim said she freezes and her mind goes blank.
“But instead I reacted the way I should have because I was prepared,” she said. “I’ve heard it said before that when you practice something you know what to do, so you react. When it happened, I knew what to do. I had already done it in my mind. It wasn’t a reaction of fear—it was a reaction of ‘I know what to do.’”
Today, as her family enjoys the Christmas season, Pilgrim is grateful young Reed is alive and well. He doesn’t have a memory of the incident—and she still serves strawberries to her family (albeit neatly cut).
She gives full credit to the training she received at Lowell Street and hopes all churches will consider offering first aid and CPR training to their members.
“We’re people and these things happen when we’re eating and fellowshipping together; it happens and it’s a part of life,” Pilgrim said. “Offering trainings like this is another way of loving each other.”
The Rev. Dick Goldie was the pastor at Lowell Street at the time of the incident and said he and the church’s Shepherding Committee decided to sponsor the training to go with the arrival of an automated external defibrillator device, which was awarded to the church because of its involvement with the community.
“I believe (Delana Pilgrim) is still thanking God for the training. So am I,” said Goldie, who now pastors Belvedere UMC, Belvedere.
The South Carolina UMC’s Conference Center staff also did first aid, CPR and AED training when it received AEDs in May 2017. Dozens of employees received the training. Many other UMCs are doing much the same.
“Preparation is one of the most important aspects of dealing with any emergency situation. While we tend to think of disaster response as responding to large natural disasters, the truth is the common disaster or emergency any church will face is probably going to be a health-related emergency. Being first aid and CPR-certified is the one of the most important steps to being prepared for any emergency. We hope all of our United Methodist churches would consider offering first aid and CPR training,” said Matt Brodie, conference disaster response coordinator.
By Jessica Brodie