By Jennifer Costa, Regional Communications Director
LEWISTON, Maine – On September 2, 2022, Michelle Michaud’s quick thinking and knowledge of lifesaving skills allowed her to help a child in distress at the ACADIA Academy in Lewiston, Maine.
“It was the second day of school. Lunchrooms are chaotic,” remembered Michaud, a behavioral health professional at the school.
A first grader was eating lunch when he suddenly jumped up, initially appearing as if he were going to be sick. Instinctively, Michaud grabbed a garbage can anticipating the child would vomit. That’s when she realized something was terribly wrong.
“He looked up to me. He had those panicked eyes and I realized that it wasn’t him just being sick. He was choking,” Michaud said.
A chicken nugget had become lodged in the boy’s airway. He was unable to breathe and was turning red when Michaud sprang into action, giving him three to four abdominal thrusts. Thankfully, her actions dislodged the nugget.
“If I wouldn’t have been standing there knowing what to do, he would have collapsed. There was no air going in. He would have collapsed and it’s terrifying,” said Michaud.
Michaud works for the Margaret Murphy Center within ACADIA Academy as Special Education Tech, working one-on-one with children. After the choking incident, a co-worker nominated Michaud for an American Red Cross Lifesaving Award.
“Michelle's quick actions were instrumental in saving a child in desperate need. The ACADIA community is immensely thankful for her lifesaving actions,” said Casey Baugher, ACADIA Academy executive director.
Red Cross Central and Mid Coast Maine Executive Director Sophie Piconi and Board Chair Patti Pelletier presented Michaud with the Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action during a faculty meeting at the Lewiston school.
The Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action (CEPA) is a national award given to individuals, like Michaud, who step up in an emergency to help save or sustain a life. These individuals exemplify the mission of the Red Cross to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.
“On behalf of the American Red Cross Central and Mid Coast Chapter Board of Directors, we are all extremely proud of Michelle and her willingness to put her training into action,” said Pelletier. “No one ever expects to need a hero. But when emergencies strike, we are glad they are out there. Please join us in recognizing Michelle for her heroic and lifesaving actions.”
With 21 years of CPR training under her belt, Michaud says as soon as she saw the child in distress, her instincts kicked in. She encourages everyone to become trained in lifesaving skills.
“Hopefully you never have to use it, but it’s so important to be trained. When I needed it, it was there. I knew exactly what to do,” she said.
These invaluable skills undoubtedly saved a little boy’s life – an outcome Michaud does not take lightly.
“Not only are we educators, we are looking out for their wellbeing and their safety. This little guy is amazing, and I get to see him every day – and that smile means everything,” said Michaud.
Red Cross training gives people the knowledge and skills to act in an emergency and save a life. A variety of online, blended (online and in-person skills session) and classroom courses are available at redcross.org/takeaclass.
People can go to LifesavingAwards.org to nominate and recognize an individual or group of individuals who have used the skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course to help save or sustain a life.