The 10-year-old Kiwi hero who saved his little brother from choking

Tyler Veint's courageous actions were recognised at a school assembly with a Super Saver Bravery Award, complete with heroic golden cape and certificate.

By Lynley Ward
The dreadful sound of his little brother choking is something schoolboy Tyler Veint can't easily forget, but thanks to his cool head, the youngster has been hailed a hero for saving the toddler's life!
Nine months on, Invercargill mum Lisa gets upset thinking about the afternoon she came close to losing little Charlie, who was struggling to breathe after a mint he was sucking blocked his airway.
As the situation turned increasingly grim, Lisa cried out to her eldest son − just 10 years old at the time − for help.
It's how Tyler acted in the minutes following that saved Charlie, Lisa believes, and warranted the bravery award her eldest son was presented with in front of his schoolmates last November.
Tyler's bravery award is deserved, say his proud parents Lisa and Bradley.
While much of the incident is still shrouded in terror and confusion, Lisa recalls pulling up at home after picking up Charlie from daycare. The 37-year-old says she went to check on Tyler who, sporting a cast with a freshly-broken thumb, was in his room.
"I went in to see if everything was alright with my eldest son and we heard this funny noise behind me. Turning around, it was Charlie standing there making this strange noise.
"It took me a couple of seconds to realise what was happening − he kept pointing to his mouth − and I realised he was choking," recalls Lisa.
"Charlie was still conscious but his lips started to go blue."
Scooping up the two-year-old, she gave instructions to Tyler who jumped into action.
"I yelled, 'Call an ambulance, your brother's choking.' He ran down the end of the hall, grabbed the phone, came back, phoned them and then he relayed what the lady was telling me to do and what was happening.
"I put Charlie across my knee, I tried to pat it out, I tried to push on his stomach to bring it back up, I tried to put my finger down his throat. And all this time Tyler was on the phone repeating the information from one end to the other.
"At the time, I was the more panicked one while he was calm and reassuring, giving me the feedback and relaying the information. He did so well!" says Lisa admiringly.
"I remember Charlie making a weird sound, and grabbing the phone and calling 111," explains Tyler, now 11. "I said, 'My little brother's choking!'"
Just months earlier, the Year 6 pupil had completed the ASB St John in Schools Programme, learning basic first-aid skills. The relieved mum knows Tyler's actions proved the difference between life and death.
"It scares me, oh my gosh. I even get anxious just thinking about it. I honestly don't know how I could have been on the phone. I had Charlie in my arms and I was trying everything to bring the lolly back up. The last thing I was thinking about was holding a phone to my ear.
"I'm so grateful for the schools to have that kind of training that he knew what to do when I said, 'Call an ambulance.' There was no second-guessing. No, 'Are you sure, Mum?' It was, 'Okay'," she tells.
As the ambulance approached the house, Tyler went out to the driveway and waved the officers in. By this time, the lolly had shifted in Charlie's throat and he was getting some much-needed air into his lungs. The tot was checked thoroughly but didn't need to go to hospital.
It's lions not lollies for Charlie from now on!
Remarkably, Charlie still remembers the episode.
Shares Lisa, "Every now and then we'll say, 'Do you remember when the ambulance came?' And he'll go, 'Yes, choking.'
"I thought he was too young to remember, but he does."
St John Intensive Care Paramedic and Shift Supervisor Debbie Blatch, who was on duty that day, is full of praise for how Tyler handled the frightening ordeal.
"He helped because he stayed cool, calm and collected, and was able to relay what needed to be done from the calltaker.
"It could have been a disastrous situation really, but because they [Tyler and Lisa] were both so calm, we had a happy ending," she says.
St John's Debbie says Tyler's cool head was a life-saver.
A few weeks after the dramatic episode, Tyler was honoured at a school assembly with a Super Saver Bravery Award, complete with heroic golden cape and certificate.
"I keep it in the back of my wardrobe because we haven't found a good spot to put it yet," grins Tyler.
While Charlie is showing no adverse signs, there are now a few new rules including keeping an eagle eye on him at mealtimes and a lolly ban.
Tells Lisa, "We now sit down and eat, and there's no more of those lollies! Depending on what it is, I sit there and watch and make him bite it first to ensure it doesn't get lodged in his throat. I'm really wary of anything I give him now."

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