Fort Dodge Community School District

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Dodger Hero: Strait's Quick Thinking Saves Child's Life - from The Messenger

May 10, 2022

When Chelsea Strait saw a student chocking on food in the lunchroom at the Early Childhood Center, she jumped into action. She alerted Principal Carmen Banwart and ran to her car to get something she knew could help.

Strait, assistant food service director for the Fort Dodge Community School District, retrieved a LifeVac device from her vehicle. 

When she returned to the lunchroom, school nurse, Amy Ulrich, was using multiple lifesaving techniques to get the food dislodged from the student's throat. Strait had Ulrich lay the student on the ground and she used the LifeVac to try to suction the food out.

After two attempts with the device, the child was able to breathe again when the piece of food was dislodged from their airway. 

"I was pretty shaky," Strait said. 

Strait has purchased the device to have on hand for her own child, and kept it stored in her car. 

"I actually initially bought the LifeVac due to a video I saw on Facebook, and I figured if I even had to use it, it would be well worth the money," she said. "Hopefully I'd never have to."

But in late April, just two weeks after receiving the device, the need arose.

"This was a team effort. It was amazing," Banwart said. "Mrs. Ulrich and Mrs. Strait did an excellent job. What's horrific about that whole thing is it's somebody else's baby, you're just worried. She thought on her feet so quick." 

On Monday, Strait was recognized as a Dodger Hero at the Fort Dodge Community School Board meeting.

"Through Chelsea's efforts we not only saved that child, but potentially have the ability to save more," said Jen Lane, director of communications for the school district. 

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