Right place, right time
By Tech. Sgt. Todd Wivell , 421st Air Base Group Public Affairs
/ Published January 12, 2012
RAF MENWITH HILL, United Kingdom -- Everyday we read a story in a book, online or in the news about someone going above and beyond to become a hero.
Typically the "hero" was just an average person in the right place at the right time. An off-duty firefighter comes upon a house on fire and pulls everyone in the home out or a nurse is out to dinner when she witnesses a traffic accident and administers life saving first aid.
Emma Bell, a child development program assistant at the Menwith Hill Station Child Development Center, is one of those "heroes" that was in the right place at the right time.
While serving lunch Jan. 4 to the 1-year-old children at the CDC, Emma (who was not supposed to work that day), noticed that Delaney Wheeler's breathing had become distressed due to a blocked airway.
"I picked Delaney up and gave her back blows and then called the front desk for help," Bell said. "I realized Delaney was still not breathing so I did some abdominal thrusts on her which dislodged the food. I comforted Delaney as she started to breathe again and cry and cough.
"My first instinct was 'she is choking,' I just dropped what I was doing and focused on getting Delaney's airway cleared. By staying calm, I was able to quickly react and administer this first aid."
Delaney Wheeler is the daughter of Tech. Sgt. Justin Wheeler, 421st Air Base Group Financial Services and Becky Wheeler, MHS Operations Clerk for the School Age Program. They have only been on station for five months and have one other daughter, Addyson, who is 5-years-old.
"I work directly down the hall from the CDC," Becky Wheeler said. "Two staff members brought Delaney to me immediately after the incident and explained what had happened.
"I was so thankful for what Emma had done and being able to hold Delaney right away reassured me very quickly that everything was okay."
Sergeant Wheeler who works about three blocks from the CDC explained that within the first seconds of notification he was scared, concerned and grateful all in one.
"Who knows what might have happened had Emma not been there and had been so quick to respond," Sergeant Wheeler said. "I know the staff is trained in these areas with the hope that they never have to use these skills.
"I am just so unbelievably grateful for what she did and to the entire staff at the Menwith Hill CDC for employing and training such good people to take care of our children."
Bell has been in the child care business for 15 years and has been employed at Menwith Hill for more than 10 years.
In addition to extensive U.S. Air Force trainings to become a certified child care assistant, Bell relayed she has to participate in annual trainings to include CPR and first aid, including managing a blocked airway and rescue breathing for infants and children.
"Everything I have learned from this constant training and feedback we receive helped me a lot that day," Bell said. "I would say anything can happen at any time, so we have to stay prepared and always watch the children."
"I have always been appreciative of people in the child care field," Sergeant Wheeler said. "They have an unbelievable amount of patience. They care for and love children just like they are their own. This is such a relief for working parents to see their own child bond with someone that plays such a big part in their lives."
After the incident the Wheeler's talked with Emma and some of the other employees about what had happened. They all had the same consensus shared by Bell.
"I just did my job and any of my colleagues would have done the same," she said.
"Although I appreciate their modesty," Sergeant Wheeler said. "I think they are owed a debt of gratitude from all the parents that use their services."
"You never know what could happen at any given time," Becky Wheeler said. "We should all be grateful for what we have each and every day. I know I am thankful for what Emma Bell did and she will always be a part of our lives."