Return to Headlines

Heroes Among Us…And a Whole Lot of Love

A Robinson Elementary School employee recently stepped up in a life-saving way. Bryan Freeman, head custodian at Robinson Elementary School in the Kirkwood School District, jumped into action after seeing a student in distress while eating lunch. Bryan saw the student choking, rushed over, and immediately administered the Heimlich maneuver to help the student. After the item was dislodged, the school nurse came to the cafeteria and medically cleared the student.

Susan Whitfield, a teacher assistant at Robinson, observed the event. “As lunch was wrapping up, Bryan observed a student struggling to breathe,” said Whitfield. “He asked the student, ‘are you ok?’ there was no response from the student. Mr. Bryan then immediately applied the Heimlich maneuver to the student. After several attempts, a food item was dislodged.”

Freeman plays multiple roles in supporting students and staff at Robinson. “He truly sees every student, gives them attention, and makes them feel valued and cared for,” said Whitfield.

“I just love the kids,” said Freeman. “I don’t pay attention to which kid needs special attention. All of them need special attention. If I’m able to help a child, I will.”

Dr. Angeline O-Neal-Hogrefe, Robinson principal, said: “He’s always observing and seeing how he can help and support everyone in the building.” Whitfield echoed those sentiments; “He really has a special instinct of what people need.”

Whitfield also shared how Freeman’s calm demeanor supported the student. “In talking to the student afterwards, he said he knew Mr. Freeman would help him.”

The student views Mr. Bryan as a trusted adult in the building and is someone that is there for him for anything he needs. The next day, the student presented Freeman with a card that said: “Thank you for saving my life.”

Freeman has served the Kirkwood School District for six years. He received first aid training including CPR, administering the Heimlich maneuver, and additional medical supports for people.