Teacher saves girl using Heimlich maneuver in class at Inza R. Wood Middle School

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL - Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue Captain Tim Nokes presents teacher Meredith Wood with tokens of honor in front of her math class. Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue (TVFR) honored a math teacher at Inza R. Wood Middle School Monday, Dec. 11, for saving a student's life.

In September, seventh-grader Ava Carroll was chewing gum when a friend came up behind her to give her a hug, but startled her and caused Ava to choke. Thankfully teacher Meredith Wood learned the Heimlich maneuver in a babysitting class when she was 12, and successfully put it to use.

"The teacher kept teaching. She did the Heimlich, had a student walk her down (to the office) and just kept teaching for the rest of the day," said Kimie Carroll, Ava's mother. "So I just think it's important; part of it is to get the word out that people should take those classes because you never know when you might need to use it, and the end of the story could have been a lot different."

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL - Teacher Meredith Wood receives a certificate of appreciation and a mug from Tualitin Valley Fire and Rescue after saving a student using the Heimlich maneuver.After the incident happened, Ava made her teacher a huge card covered with Lifesaver candy and the family gave Wood a flower arrangement. But for Kimmie, it wasn't enough.

"I just want her to be recognized because it was a big deal," Carroll said.

So on Monday, Dec. 11, Principal Kelly Schmidt, Carroll and members of TVFR surprised Wood in class to honor her.

Captain Tim Nokes presented Wood with a certificate of appreciation signed by the chief of their division and a coffee mug.

"Just like this example here, (the Heimlich maneuver) is proven to save lives," Nokes said. "The faster you can correct the airway issue, the more chance you have of that person having a successful outcome, so that type of training is crucial."

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL - Inza R. Wood Principal Kelly Schmidt (left) honors teacher Meredith Wood (right) for saving a student's life.And while not all staff members in the schools are required to be trained, a certain percentage of staff are, so Nokes said be sure to know who is trained closest to you if you're not trained yourself.

"Anything you can do before we arrive to help the situation is going to have a better outcome for the patient in the long run," Nokes said.

The Red Cross, The American Heart Association and some local fire departments offer training. Nokes said TVFR has a training section on its website,, where people can find out more information on classes.

But regardless of the dangers, people will still chew gum. Even after Ava found herself choking, she assures Carroll: "Mom, I'm still going to chew gum."

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Seventh-grader Ava Carroll is grateful her math teacher knows the Heimlich maneuver.Wilsonville Spokesman reporter Clara Howell can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-636-1281 ext: 112.

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