The school has already hailed him as a hero!
Jace Wiggins is a fourth grader at Leith Walk Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland, WMAR 2 News reports. While wrapping up the year in preparation for summer break, Jace’s class decided to have a party on the last day of school. That’s when the unthinkable happened and Jace went from a normal 9-year-old to one who had to save someone’s life.
“We were just having fun in the music room listening to music. She went to go have a drink of water and next minute she was chewing on a cap and drinking water and it must have went down,” recalled Jace.
He quickly sprung into action, running over to his friend and performing the Heimlich maneuver on her. While Jace admits he was scared, he just naturally reacted, revealing that it took 3 tries to dislodge the cap from his friend’s throat.
“When she was gasping for air and she was trying to get out what she was saying, she was trying to say help but we couldn’t understand it but I kind of heard it,” he told reporters.
Jace learned the Heimlich Maneuver when he was just 7-years-old. His mother, Charlie Gilliam, is a certified instructor, teaching Jace the Heimlich and CPR. Gilliam said she was admittedly shocked when she received the call about what happened.
“He called and then the school called and said your son saved someone’s life and when he called I think that his adrenaline was rushing and I’m like what do you mean you did all of this and he said ‘I just did it,’” explained Gilliam.
While young, Gilliam is grateful she taught Jace when she did because had he not known, who knows how tragic the situation could’ve ended.
“Cardiac arrest is something that it doesn’t have a face, it doesn’t have an age limit so I think that it’s very important and imperative to have everyone around you just know,” said Gilliam.
Jace says the hardest thing to master when learning CPR was the chest compressions. Still, he’s glad that he did and plans to help his mom this summer with other classes to teach youth on CPR and AED life-saving procedures. School officials have already recognized Jace for his heroism.
While astonishing, situations like what Jace experienced are not uncommon and organizations all over are trying to make sure more everyday people are trained in life-saving maneuvers. Recently, NFL star Damar Hamlin announced his multi-city tour to train youth groups in CPR and AED use, citing his own near-death experience last season on the field when those very same techniques saved his own life.
“Growing up playing sports, I never really remember ever thinking about where an AED was, or ever thinking about CPR training. I don’t ever remember a coach or a parent ever knowing where an AED was in a gym or stadium, or anywhere, for that matter. As we learned from my personal experience, it is very important and life-changing. This program is very important because it gives life-saving care to kids in their own communities,” said Hamlin.
Jace is proof that you’re never too young to become a hero and even the littlest of us can be trained to save lives. Thank you for saving the day Jace!
Cover photo: Meet the fourth grader who saved his classmate’s life on the last day of school/Photo Courtesy of WMAR 2 News