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Quick-Thinking 7-Year-Old Saves Choking Older Brother With Heimlich

Close Call Leads Family To Remind Public Of Importance Of Learning First Aid
Mason Shirhall

Mason and Gavin Shirhall, right. Credit CBS 2

VERNON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A little boy was being hailed as a hero Monday by his older brother.

Their parents said their youngest son jumped up and performed the Heimlich maneuver without hesitation, possibly saving his brother’s life, CBS 2’s Emily Smith reported.

One of the scariest things a parent can come face to face with is a choking child. Or for Erin Shirhall, her son silently choking while her back was turned.

“Gavin said, ‘Mom, I almost just chocked to death and Mason gave me the Heimlich,’” Erin Shirhall said.

That’s 7-year-old Mason, who didn’t waste a second when he saw his 10-year-old brother unable to breathe or talk.

“I looked at him and then I was like … It made me get up and help him,” Mason said.

“I was terrified. Glad I had my brother here. A big meatball…lodged in my throat,” Gavin said.

The scary incident happened right at the kitchen table Saturday night while eating canned spaghetti and meatballs. Both boys learned the Heimlich maneuver almost a year ago from their father, who is a volunteer firefighter and Cub Scout leader.

Erin Shirhall said he had no idea the lesson would stick.

“They are always wrestling and fighting, never anything to help each other out,” father Rob Shirhall said with a laugh.

The family can get a good laugh out of it now, but the little guys said, in all seriousness, take a CPR class and learn how to help and ask for help.

“When somebody makes this sign do the maneuver because that’s what you need to know a person is choking,” Gavin explained to CBS 2′s Smith.

“He really could’ve died and if it wasn’t for Mason’s quick action it might’ve been a lot worse,” Erin Shirhall said.

Gavin is back to devouring one of his favorite snacks, but minus the meatballs, at least for now.

Medical experts said it’s always best to call 911 if you suspect someone is choking, even if the situation seems to be under control.

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