A member of staff at Peter Pan’s Neverland adventure play area has received official recognition for her “extraordinary” actions which helped save a woman from choking.
Joanne Weir, from Portadown, was working in one of the party rooms last October when a woman in her 30s began choking on a piece of food.
Although aged just 19 then, the quick-thinking student used the life-saving skills she has been taught on her Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education to successfully perform the Heimlich manoeuvre.
Joanna’s response was all the more amazing as she suffers from a hip condition, which restricts her mobility.
Her actions earned her a certificate of commendation from the Royal Humane Society, which described them as “extraordinary”.
And this week, former Lord Mayor Darryn Causby went along to Peter’s Pan’s in Meadow Lane to congratulate Joanna and present her with the certificate.
The dramatic events were captured on Peter Pan’s cameras and demonstrate just how serious the situation was. In total, the woman was struggling for breath for 90 seconds, from the moment she took a bite of the food to when it was finally dislodged by Joanna.
Said Joanna, “One of the older children came out of the room screaming and when I went in there were other wee ones crying as well and the woman was on the floor in the corner, she was choking. I slapped her seven or eight times but it didn’t work.
“The only other thing I knew how to do was the Heimlich manoeuvre. She was a good bit bigger than me but on the ninth thrust the piece of chicken flew out.”
Peter Pan owner Robert McKinney described Joanna as a “star” and said she was “the right person there at the right time”.
Assistant manager Jade Chan, who was working on the day of the drama, said, “When you see the footage, it really brings home how serious it was.”
Joanna has now been appointed a trainee supervisor.