‘He just looked limp:’ Gwinnett school resource officer saves choking infant

Gwinnett County School Resource Officer Rhonda Wood saved a choking baby in August while at a meet-and-greet event. Two students from Lanier High School, where she works, rushed to her with the unresponsive baby and she performed CPR to clear its airway.
Gwinnett County School Resource Officer Rhonda Wood saved a choking baby in August while at a meet-and-greet event. Two students from Lanier High School, where she works, rushed to her with the unresponsive baby and she performed CPR to clear its airway.

An observant Gwinnett County school resource officer visiting students at an apartment complex acted quickly to save a choking infant in August.

Officer Rhonda Wood, the SRO for Lanier High School, was enjoying a community meet-and-greet called “Donuts with your SROs” at the Plantation Ridge Apartments on Aug. 11 when she saw two 16-year-old girls running toward her with a baby.

“Honestly, my first thought was, ’Wow, they’re in a hurry for some doughnuts,’” Wood said.

Then, she noticed that one of the teenagers was carrying an infant who appeared unresponsive.

“She was carrying him face-down. He just looked limp,” Wood said of the baby boy. “Then I noticed that she looked frantic.”

Wood said the girls’ urgency and the condition of the baby grabbed her attention, so she ran toward them. One of the girls told Wood the baby was not breathing, so she began performing CPR. The maneuver helped clear the baby’s airway and he began to cry. Wood asked another officer to check that the child’s airway was clear with a finger sweep, then did her best to calm him.

The baby was examined by emergency services and released to his grandmother at the scene.

Wood said the near-tragedy was caused by party confetti. The two teenage girls, who are twins and attend Lanier High, were decorating for their dual birthday party to be held later that day. The baby boy attempted to eat some of the confetti, and when one of the girls tried to take it from his mouth, “she accidentally lodged it farther in there,” Wood said.

A 20-year veteran of law enforcement, Wood said she did what she thought any other officer in her shoes would have done.

“I don’t want the accolades,” she said. Wood explained that she was first to respond because she was standing away from the event talking to a sheriff’s deputy who happened to be at the complex as well. “I was trying to get her to take a doughnut,” Wood said.

Wood is looking forward to getting to know the teenage twins, whose quick thinking helped save the baby boy’s life. They will return to Lanier, which has a population of more than 1,800 students, after Labor Day weekend for the beginning of their junior year.

Wood did not know the girls’ relationship to the infant. “I’d like to get to know them better,” she said.

Wood said she plans to visit the girls, and check in on the baby, before in-person classes resume.

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