Off-duty EMT rescues choking toddler at N.Y. Friendly’s
Dannielle Binns, who works for two agencies, started administering back blows as the child was turning blue
CLAY, N.Y. — It began as a quiet Tuesday night for off-duty EMT Dannielle Binns who decided to stop for dinner with her five-year-old daughter and friend at the Friendly’s restaurant in Clay.
That quiet dinner was interrupted by a mother’s screams that her three-year-old daughter was choking and she needed help.
Binns, who has worked as an EMT for Western Area Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) and TLC for the last 13 years, was four tables away and her training kicked in.
“I realized someone needed help,” said Binns, a Camillus resident. “The mom was standing up and the child was slumping out of her chair. I knew I needed to go over there and help the child for this mother.”
Binns grabbed the toddler, who was turning blue, and began administering back blows — firmly patting the girl on her back — until the girl spat out a piece of a cheese stick that was blocking her airway, she said.
Giving five back blows is one of the first steps to perform on a conscious person who is choking, according to the American Red Cross. The complete process for helping a choking person can be found here.
While Binns was dealing with the choking toddler, her friend called 911 for an ambulance.
“You have to make sure someone calls 911,” said Binns, who also is a fourth-grade teacher at Split Rock Elementary School in Camillus. “It was good that my friend was right there and called 911. It was a good team effort.”
Binns said she sat with the family until a Northern Onondaga Volunteer Ambulance (NOVA) arrived. The girl was talking and breathing normally by the time paramedics got to her, she said.
The family — mom, dad and several other children — took the girl to an area hospital to be evaluated, Binns said.
WAVES congratulated Binns on a job well done: “Great work Dannielle!!”
Binns said it was just chance she was at the restaurant that night. She said she rarely eats at Friendly’s and just happened to have dinner there after shopping at a few nearby stores.
Binns stressed how important it is for everyone to learn CPR and first aid.
“That could have been anyone,” she said. “You don’t have to be an EMT. You could be a civilian who is trained in CPR. You just never know when you might be needed to help someone else out.”
Binns, who also teaches CPR, said local fire departments typically offer CPR and first aid classes, or at least know where to find one. The Central and Northern New York American Red Cross Chapter also offers classes.
“I was at the right place at the right time,” she said. “That’s why it's important that everyone’s trained (in CPR). You want to make sure you don’t have to depend on someone else being there at the right time.”