Wentzville lunch supervisor saves choking 5th grader

Amazingly, it’s the second student Danielle Eichmeyer has saved using the Heimlich maneuver in her 26 years with the district.
Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 10:32 PM CST
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WENTZVILLE (KMOV) -A Wentzville lunch room supervisor is being called a hero after saving a student who was choking in January.

Danielle Eichmeyer, who has worked at Heritage Intermediate School in the Wentzville School District for 26 years, jumped into action when she saw fifth grader Shelby Ashen choking during her lunch period.

“I was eating a Lunchable, it had a cracker and cheese, double cheese, so I was eating and I swallowed it whole,” Ashen said. “It felt like it got stuck [around here] and I tried to get my mom’s attention.”

Ashen’s mom also works in the cafeteria and began hitting her daughter in the back in an attempt to dislodge the food.

That’s when Danielle Eichmeyer realized what was happening.

“I happened to notice that her mom was slapping her on the back and the other kids were looking very panicked so I was like, something is wrong,” said Eichmeyer.

Eichmeyer made her way to Shelby and began using the Heimlich maneuver.

“I looked back and I saw Mrs. Eichmeyer swimming through the kids and she put her hand on my stomach and pushed really hard,” Ashen said.

Eichmeyer said after the first several attempts didn’t work, she repositioned Ashen over her knee, eventually dislodging the cheese and cracker she had swallowed.

“It took three times and it came up and I just feel so grateful that she was there and helped me,” the fifth grader said.

Amazingly, it isn’t the first time Eichmeyer has saved a student in the lunchroom. In 2014, she successfully performed the Heimlich maneuver on a fourth grade boy.

“When we’re doing the training, I said, I’ll never remember this, I’ll never remember this,” she said. “But he walked up to me and was doing this [motioning to his neck] and I said, ‘are you choking?’ and he said, ‘Yeah.’ It was like I was trained and it stayed.”

Eichmeyer said she takes part in first-aid training every year and never thought she’d need to use the Heimlich maneuver on a student, let alone twice in eight years.

“When I heard she did it before I’m like, Mrs. Eichmeyer is the best teacher and I’m pretty sure that kid is grateful for her,” Ashen said.