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RACINE — Essence “Essie” Marie Collier, a student at Fratt Elementary School, is a hero. On Tuesday, Nov. 8, she saved her fellow classmate’s life by performing the Heimlich maneuver. 

During lunch period, on the day of the Midterm Election, students at Fratt Elementary School were eating lunch in their classrooms. Voting was taking place in the cafeteria that day.

As Essie was enjoying her lunch, she saw a student in distress.

The 9-year-old knew the student was choking because she couldn’t breathe. She also described how her classmate was grabbing her throat with both of her hands.

Saving a life

The universal distress signal was noticed by Collier and without thinking, she jumped into action.

“I took a deep breathe and put my hands around the stomach,” said Collier about performing the Heimlich maneuver.

After one thrust, the student was no longer choking and was saved by Essie.

Essence “Essie” Collier from Fratt Elementary School. –

“I kept saying call 911, call 911,” she expressed with concern.

Essie had never seen anyone choke before this incident, but she recalled learning how to do the Heimlich maneuver based on a video she had seen years ago. She also remembered watching and learning about Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) in the video, too. Learning about these life-saving techniques intrigues the young student, and she expressed how she wants to be able to help, no matter what.

“I love the idea of doing everything,” said Collier.

A humble hero

The school nurse was amazed by the heroic actions that Collier took and therefore shared the story with fellow coworkers.

While Essie feels like a hero, she knows that she only did what she had to do to save her classmate.

“You should be to be a leader. Not a follower,” she said.

That phrase is something she learned from Jill Kamm, a Racine Unified School District social worker.

When speaking of Kamm, Collier said, “she’s one of those helpers” and “I want to be one.”

Collier received positive praise from her fellow classmates, staff, and others. She even was awarded 21 Falcon Feathers.

“It’s what you get when you do something good,” noted Collier about the Falcon Feathers.

With her reward, she is saving up to turn them in for a prize at the school store. Essie shared that she wouldn’t redeem them for a prize for herself, but rather for her siblings; just another way this 9-year-old is paying it forward and being a steward of good leadership.

Collier will also be recognized at the RUSD Board Meeting on Nov. 21 in honor of her actions.

Pledge to learn

Essie believes that it would be a good idea for everyone to learn how to perform the Heimlich maneuver.


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