With a squeeze, she saves boy's life
By LEON M. TUCKER
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 19, 2000
LARGO -- Jimmy Vogelpohl has a suggestion to make.
"Put holes in hotdogs so you can breathe," the 8-year-old joked Friday, a day after he nearly choked on a weiner he was eating the night before.
Jimmy was at a police-sponsored bicycle demonstration Thursday eating a hotdog when a piece got lodged in his throat.
Roxanne Hunt, a member of the federal AmeriCorps program working at the demonstration, saw the youngster in trouble and sprang into action.
"I heard somebody trying to tell him to spit it out, but he couldn't speak," the 23-year-old said Friday. "When I saw his face was turning blue, I got behind him and gave him a couple of squeezes. It popped right out."
Hunt, a member of the St. Petersburg Junior College chapter of AmeriCorps, is working with the Largo police department this year as a community liaison helping foster relationships between the department and its residents through efforts like neighborhood trash cleanups and teen counseling.
The program requires its members to serve 1,700 hours of community service to be eligible to receive an educational grant of $4,725 at the end of the year.
The back-to-school event was held at the Largo police substation at Barclay Square off Walsingham Road, where Hunt was helping conduct a bicycle demonstration for neighborhood kids.
Jimmy's mother, Kim Zgleszewski, said she panicked when she saw her son choking.
"I know how to do the Heimlich maneuver," said Jimmy's mother. "But being a mother, I froze. We're just thankful she knew what she was doing. She's a wonderful lady."
Hunt started working with AmeriCorps in February. The Holiday resident, who is a criminology student at the University of South Florida, said she learned the life-saving technique while talking with friends before class five years ago.
The youngster sat on Hunt's lap Friday and tried to explain what happened.
"I usually try to chew it up in the back part of my mouth," he said. "But I accidentally swallowed it."
Jimmy went inside the building where they were boiling hotdogs and began eating one as he made his way back to where his family was. When a chunk of the hotdog got stuck in Jimmy's throat, he started to choke.
"It felt weird," he said. "I couldn't talk or anything."
Police officials, meanwhile, said Hunt will be commended for her quick response.
"We do have a process in place for this," said Carla Boudrot, spokeswoman for the Largo police department. "She'll certainly be considered for a number of different levels of recognition for this."
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times
North Pinellas desks