A Local Hero In the Right Place at the Right Time

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Community: Patricia Campbell
Written by Tyler Francke, Contributing Writer

A wise person once said, “A hero is but ordinary people who notice the needs around them — and act.”

Local Hero Patricia Campbell

Canby High School junior Patricia Campbell proved herself such a hero recently when she swooped into action to help a person choking and unable to breathe at the Bridgeport Village mall in Tualatin.

It was an ordinary, busy day at the Brandy Melville store where Patricia works, when she noticed her manager, who was working a cash register, begin choking on something and in obvious distress.

Worried, Patricia followed her to the store’s back room, where she began coughing even harder and indicated that she was unable to breathe or speak. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, her adrenaline kicked in and she knew she had to act swiftly.

An infographic that shows how to do the Heimlich Maneuver

“I had seen videos of the Heimlich maneuver before, but I had never actually done it,” she says. “But I didn’t know what else to do. I guess my ‘fight-or-flight’ instincts kind of kicked in.”

Although she had never had to use the technique before in real life, Patricia’s father had taught her how to do abdominal thrusts and impressed upon her the importance of acting when she saw someone in distress — having had his own experience of saving a choking person in a restaurant when he was a young man.

Fortunately, the maneuver — which is performed on adults by wrapping your arms around a person, making a fist with one hand and clasping it with the other, then placing your firsts between the person’s ribcage and belly button and thrusting into their abdomen until the object is freed — worked right away.

The object, whatever it was, flew into the air and landed — conveniently — in a trash can on the other side of the breakroom. “I just heard this huge inhalation of air, and it was like this big weight was carried off my shoulders,” Patricia recalls. “That was definitely one of the most stressful two minutes of my life.”

Patricia did not think much about the experience but when, coincidentally, the subject of the Heimlich maneuver came up the following week in Bob Hammitt’s Canby High School history class, she was given the opportunity to share her story.

The teacher later reached out to local media in the hopes that Patricia’s story might raise awareness and inspire others to learn the Heimlich, CPR and other basic first aid — and act quickly when they see someone choking or in distress.

“She was very grateful,” Patricia says of her manager. “She just gave me a hug and went back to work. I was just glad I knew what to do and I wasn’t guessing. I didn’t expect to ever have to use it, but you never know.”