It was just another late night hang-out for high school students at the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America conference in Bismarck, North Dakota. Sophomore Samantha Nordmark, freshman Billie Lentz, and two other freshman girls all from Rolla, ND, were eating a late night meal in their hotel room after a long day.
Little did any of the girls know that it would take a heroic effort to save a life. Lentz started choking on a piece of the food, and started clutching her throat. “She was turning red and purple,” Nordmark said. “Everyone froze for a second, but then I went to help.”
Nordmark started giving Lentz abdominal thrusts, something she learned taking lifeguarding and CPR courses through the American Red Cross in Rugby, ND. On the fourth thrust, the food was dislodged from Lentz’s throat, saving her life.
The girls found a nearby chaperone, which happened to be Lentz’s mother, a nurse. Billie was shaken, but after coughing for a few minutes, was OK. It was the quick action of Nordmark that made the difference.
“It was scary, something you never think would ever happen, but it did,” Lentz said. “I’m so glad (Samantha) was there or I may not be here.”
Lentz submitted her heroic action to the Red Cross for a Citation and Certificate of Merit. Since 1911, thousands of Certificate of Merit awards have been issued to individuals who have saved or sustained a life as a direct result of American Red Cross training in its Health and Safety programs.
“It is so important to learn these skills,” Nordmark added. “If you are in a crowd, it is nice to know you are the person that can keep someone living.”
Nordmark was awarded a medal, pin and certificate my Red Cross personnel this past fall for her efforts.