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South Jordan lunch lady saves choking third-grader

Published: Saturday, Aug. 1 2015 7:57 a.m. MDT

Lunchroom clerk Anne Carpenter at Monte Vista Elementary is interviewed in South Jordan on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. A student was choking on a piece of orange during lunch, and Carpenter dislodged it by performing the Heimlich maneuver. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) Lunchroom clerk Anne Carpenter at Monte Vista Elementary is interviewed in South Jordan on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. A student was choking on a piece of orange during lunch, and Carpenter dislodged it by performing the Heimlich maneuver. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SOUTH JORDAN — What one lunch lady says was "what anyone would have done," others are calling heroic.

Anne Carpenter, a lunchroom clerk at Monte Vista Elementary School, 11121 S. 2700 West, was watching a group of third-graders eat lunch on Wednesday when she saw 8-year-old Ashley Dwyer choking on an orange.

Ashley came up to Carpenter with her arms around her neck.

"I turned her around, lifted her arms a little bit and put my fist right below her ribs," Carpenter said. "I did one push and I heard some gurgling sounds, and the orange flew out."

Ashley said she was laughing at jokes her friends were telling when the orange got stuck in her throat.

"I don't know whether I could breathe or not, I was panicking. It was pretty scary," she said. "Luckily, the orange landed on an empty table."

Ashley Dwyer, a third-grader, talks about choking on an orange and how the lunchroom clerk performed the Heimlich maneuver on her at Monte Vista Elementary in South Jordan on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) Ashley Dwyer, a third-grader, talks about choking on an orange and how the lunchroom clerk performed the Heimlich maneuver on her at Monte Vista Elementary in South Jordan on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

Ashley's mother, Marianne, was in the school volunteer-teaching an art class when she heard what had happened. She said Ashley had tears running down her face when she saw her.

"Ashley was really shaken up by it," Dwyer said. "As the day went on, it really sunk in — whoa, I almost lost my child today."

Ashley's parents said they were very grateful to Carpenter for her quick response.

"Sometimes you think it's the job of the first responders and paramedics to do this," Ashley's father, Daryl, said. "But in a case like this where you have so little time, it's wonderful to know that you have staff that's here on site that's trained and knows what to do."

Although Carpenter has had training in first aid and CPR, she says it's all part of the job.

Lunchroom clerk Anne Carpenter demonstrates how she performed the Heimlich maneuver on third-grader Ashley Dwyer at Monte Vista Elementary in South Jordan on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Dwyer was choking on a piece of orange during lunch, and Carpenter dislodged it using the maneuver. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) Lunchroom clerk Anne Carpenter demonstrates how she performed the Heimlich maneuver on third-grader Ashley Dwyer at Monte Vista Elementary in South Jordan on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Dwyer was choking on a piece of orange during lunch, and Carpenter dislodged it using the maneuver. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

"Everything just worked perfectly," she said. "It's my job. They're my kids."

Email: mjacobsen@deseretnews.com

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