SAN DIEGO — A San Diego high school student helped save her choking neighbor’s life last summer, earning one of the highest honors awarded by Girl Scouts of America.
Nevaeh Henrich, then a junior at Coronado High School, received the Girl Scouts’ Medal of Honor this week for her “courage and action amid an emergency,” the organization said in a news release.
Henrich told the Red Cross that she was hanging out at a neighbor’s house, eating a snack and watching TV, when her friend’s mom came into the room looking concerned.
“I kind of made a motion that food was stuck,” recalled Frances Rogers, the friend’s mother, who also shared her story with the Red Cross. “I could barely breathe. Barely. What I said to them was through, basically, gasps that I could eke out.”
Rogers said she had been eating in the other room and took too large of a bite. She needed help, and fast.
“My friend and I shot up and I told my friend to do the Heimlich maneuver, because they are both over 6-foot, and I am only 5’3,” Henrich said. She also called 911, working through the steps she’d learned both as a scout and the daughter of first responders.
Her friend’s attempts to dislodge the food were unsuccessful, so Henrich ran to grab his brother, who also jumped into action. His efforts seemed to help to some degree, but Rogers was still badly struggling to breathe. Henrich ran outside to find the police officer sent by 911 operators.
“I looked out my front door and I saw Nevaeh and I saw the police officer,” Rogers told the Red Cross, growing emotional. “He came closer to me, and he put his hand on my shoulder, trying to kind of assess how much air I was getting. I was still struggling, and I made a motion to him that it was not enough air.
“And then he gave me the Heimlich maneuver. After a few thrusts then I started to be able to breathe.”
The Girl Scouts said Henrich deserved recognition for the way she expertly ushered the family through such a traumatic experience, helping Rogers get the help she needed in time.
“Nevaeh calmly guided family bystanders in performing the Heimlich maneuver, called 9-1-1 and directed first responders to the home — actions that ultimately saved Nevaeh’s neighbor’s life,” the Girl Scouts said in their statement announcing her award.
The Medal of Honor is a rare distinction, a spokesperson told FOX 5 by email. Henrich was the first local Girl Scout to receive the award in five years.