Teacher abandons strict observance of Covid-19 protocols to resuscitate pupil

02 September 2021 - 07:47
Grabouw physical education teacher Daniella Williams hailed for helping a 7-year-old girl who collapsed at her school.
Grabouw physical education teacher Daniella Williams hailed for helping a 7-year-old girl who collapsed at her school.
Image: Supplied

Social distancing and sanitising are probably the most popular words since the arrival of Covid-19. But for a Western Cape physical education teacher, Daniella Williams, adhering to Covid-19 protocols had to momentarily take a back seat after one of her pupils at Hoërskool Grabouw High School collapsed.

“There were two choices to make. It was either keeping Covid-19 protocols or save a life, and I couldn’t let a little girl die in my hands. As I held her in my hands, running from the field to the office, I could feel her breathing getting very shallow and her eyelids had started turning whitish. I thought maybe she had a heart attack,” she said.

“I asked myself 'do I risk possibly getting Covid-19 or bring this little girl back to life?' That’s when I decided to pull down my mask and I started blowing air really hard into her nostrils. When I saw her trying to open her eyes after I did this a few times I kept on blowing to resuscitate her until she started whispering to me. She told me that she couldn’t open her eyes, and that she had asthma.”

Williams said she had just started her physical education lesson when the seven-year-old grade 1 pupil approached her, saying she was very tired. “I remember saying to her: how could you be so tired when we have not even started our lesson?” A few minutes after Williams seated the little girl on a chair, she fell off her chair, causing a frenzy among her peers.

“I grabbed her by the arm and carried her towards the office. As I held her in my arms I could feel her breathing slowly fading away. At some point it felt like I was carrying a doll ... she had a pulse, but very shallow breathing. As I was running, my life-saving instincts kicked in.

“As I blew air through her nose, her eyes started rolling back. For me that was a sign of life so I kept going and engaging her to respond. When she could sit up I told her to use breathing techniques that I teach the kids during our lessons, gave her a bit of sugar water and she slowly regained consciousness.”

SA scientists have identified a new coronavirus variant that shares many mutations with some of the world's most dominant variants. But the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the new variant does not seem to be spreading.

When the girl’s mother arrived at the school, Williams said, “she was so grateful”. “She told us that her child had asthma and had forgotten her asthma pump. She wanted to buy me chocolate as a token of appreciation, but for me this was not about being awarded any trophies. It was about saving a life ... I keep on imagining what if the little girl had walked to the toilet and fainted there.”

“I just felt so good that I was in the right place at the right time, and I had done something to benefit the life of another person.”

William’s partner Trevor Field praised her selflessness.

“In a period where we hear about Covid-19 deaths all the time, what Danielle did is really heroic. She usually takes extra precautions about Covid-19 ... always masked up and sanitising her hands all the time, but this time she cared more about saving the life of another person than saving her own life. What she did is really selfless.”

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