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Salute Our Heroes: Robinson Middle School activities coordinator comes to aid of choking student

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 11:56 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Robinson Middle School activities coordinator Kim Stroud has been around kids long enough to gain a sixth sense of when something is about to happen.

That intuition kicked in a few weeks ago while she was on lunchroom duty at the school, 1125 S.W. 14th.

“Well, I’m in a lunchroom full of eighth-grade students,” Stroud said, as she recalled the incident. “I am the lead supervisor in the lunchroom.

“I’ve been doing this awhile, so you kind of get a little bit of intuition or a feeling that something might happen.”

Stroud was on high alert as she walked around the lunchroom.

“I felt like something was getting ready to happen,” she said, “so I really started looking around and being a little bit more meticulous on what was happening.”

Stroud said a short time later, she saw eighth-grader Berta Zunun-Gomez standing up at her table.

That was out of character for Berta, Stroud said.

It quickly became evident that Berta was in distress.

Stroud said she went over “immediately” and determined Berta was choking and that she couldn’t breathe.

“So I spun her around and did the Heimlich maneuver on her,” Stroud said, “and she started coughing and gave me a thumbs-up. I continued to talk to her and we worked through it, and everything was fine after that. She went on to class later in the day.”

Though Stroud said “it’s definitely a full lunchroom,” she didn’t know how many students were aware of “what was going on.”

Stroud said that after she performed the Heimlich maneuver on Berta, several students assisted by getting their classmate a glass of water and a chair.

“We just got right back to business,” Stroud said. “Just kept our day going like usual.

“She was fine. Very fortunate. I’m glad things worked out the way they did.”

Taking quick action is something that comes naturally to Stroud. She says all coaches and activity directors in the Topeka Public Schools are required to have first-aid training.

Stroud said she started receiving first-aid training “many years ago” when she was in Girl Scouts. It continued when she served in the Kansas National Guard.

“People either react or they don’t react,” Stroud said. “I’m fortunate where I just jump in. I’ve stopped at car accidents before and other situations, so when this occurred, I didn’t even think -- I just reacted. I just like helping people.”

Berta said the choking incident occurred during the second week of school.

It caught her off guard, she said.

“Really surprised what happened that day,” she said, “‘cuz it just never happens to me.”

Berta said at first, she thought the choking would stop on its own.

“I actually thought it was going to be like those regular chokes that went away,” she said. “But after awhile, I realized that this one didn’t go away.

“So that’s when Ms. Stroud came and saved me.”

Berta says she’s grateful for what Stroud did for her that day.

“I’m really, really thankful that she did that,” Berta said. “It was really nice of her. I don’t know what other people would have done for me.”

After the ordeal, things quickly returned to normal.

But Berta and Stroud have a bond that won’t soon be broken.

“I’m very, very blessed and thankful,” Berta said. “I thanked her.”

Stroud agreed, saying Berta has thanked her “several times.”

“It’s just a good feeling to know that this young lady is going to be here every day with us,” Stroud said. “I’m just glad I could step in and help out such a great kid.”

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