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Kennie Sue Brogdon will forever be an elderly woman named Helen’s guardian angel.
By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers

Kennie Sue Brogdon will forever be an elderly woman named Helen’s guardian angel.

Brogdon, Sedona Winds retirement home dining room manager, saved Helen’s life June 4 when Helen choked on a hamburger in the Sedona Winds dining room.

Helen’s last name is not being used to protect her privacy.

When Brogdon came in from lunch, she said Helen flailed her arms in the air.

“I thought she was waving at me,” Brogdon said.

Brogdon first waved back and then quickly realized something was wrong.

Taking immediate action, Brogdon performed several abdominal thrusts on Helen.

“I didn’t even think about it,” Brogdon said. “I just did it.”

It’s hard, as an untrained person, to not only recognize an emergency situation but to then take action, according to Sedona Fire District Capt. Pat Ojeda.

Ojeda was the captain on duty at SFD’s Village of Oak Creek station when Helen choked. He asked that SFD honor Brogdon.

SFD Public Information Officer Gary Johnson presented Brogdon with a plaque and T-shirts for her and her children at Sedona Winds on July 3.

SFD’s response to the accident was delayed due to construction on Jacks Canyon Road. By the time crews arrived, Brogdon had cleared the hamburger from Helen’s airway.

Brogdon started with regular thrusts, she said, but the food wouldn’t come up.

“I just couldn’t get it out,” Brogdon said.

Each thrust applied more pressure using all the force Brogdon could muster.

“I had to use more and more force,” Brogdon said.

Eventually, the hamburger came loose and Helen swallowed it.

Brogdon said she immediately collapsed over Helen and began crying.

“I was physically exhausted,” Brogdon said.

Helen wasn’t available for comment.

Sedona Winds Executive Director Judy Hill said Brogdon was able to stay calm in a frantic situation.

“I think the thing that is the nicest about Kennie [Brogdon] is she keeps her composure,” Hill said.

Brogdon has taken CPR classes but her certification had lapsed before the incident.

SFD offers monthly opportunities for residents to become CPR certified. A two-class session on the fourth Thursday and Friday of the month costs $55. Each class starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 10 a.m. For more information, call SFD at 282-6800.

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