Sewickley Valley YMCA lifeguard performs Heimlich on friend

Monday, March 18, 2019 | 5:30 PM


Caitlin Kiliany didn’t hesitate when a friend recently started choking.

“I knew the signs and what I had to do,” she said.

Trained as lifeguard at the Sewickley Valley YMCA, Caitlin, 17, immediately performed the Heimlich maneuver when a piece of chicken got stuck in Josh Peters’ throat.

The students were on a field trip with their biotechnology class on March 7 at Carnegie Science Center. Caitlin, a senior at Ambridge Area High School, said the center was packed, and her group was running late when they sat down to eat a quick lunch.

“(Josh) started choking. He tried to take a drink of water and he threw up,” said Caitlin.

Caitlin performed abdominal thrusts.

“I got his airway clear,” said Caitlin, daughter of Regis and Mary Catherine Kiliany.

Paramedics arrived soon after, and Josh went to a hospital for evaluation. He later had an endoscopy to remove a piece of food that remained.

It’s the first time Caitlin had to use her first-aid skills and she’s glad to have them, even though she’s embarrassed by all of the attention she’s received.

“It’s a little crazy,” she said. “Everyone keeps asking me about it.”

Caitlin, who plans to attend Saint Vincent College and major in biology, wants to one day become a doctor. She said she was asked to attend the school board meeting this week to talk about what happened.