Quick action by Clay Lamberton students and staff member save choking 5th grader

When a fifth-grade student Ben Griffin began choking during a recent lunch period at Clay Lamberton Elementary School in Berlin, the quick-thinking actions of fellow classmates and a lunchroom aide saved his life.


According to the school nurse, Terri Mauel, R.N., B.S.N, the student was talking and laughing with his classmates when a piece of food lodged in his throat. The student, Ben, could not talk and could not get air, so he grabbed the shoulder of his classmate, Chad Halbesma, to get his attention. Chad then performed back blows between Ben’s shoulder blades in an attempt to dislodge the food. Some food did dislodge, but Ben’s airways remain blocked. Chad and another classmate, Rowan Hanson, ran to the lunchroom aide for help. The aide, Amanda Osterberg quickly responded and performed additional back blows between Ben’s shoulder blades until the food was finally expelled and Ben could breathe again.

“This was a serious situation, and the entire lunchroom came to a halt when it occurred,” explained Mauel. “When Ben could breathe again, everyone in the lunch room cheered and clapped for Ms. Osterberg, Chad and Rowan for helping save Ben’s life.”


“We are so proud of the quick-thinking actions of everyone involved,” stated Berlin Area School District Superintendent Dr. Bob Eidahl. “They are to be commended for taking action without hesitation and we are thankful Ben was fine after he received help.”