Guardian Angel found at Kent-Sussex Industries

KSI employee Michelle Drummond saved the life of a participant in her care recently. For her efforts, KSI CEO Craig Crouch awarded her with the Guardian Angel award. (Submitted photo)

MILFORD — Kent-Sussex Industries in Milford has one more Guardian Angel on their side.

Michelle Drummond of Houston showed up for work one day, expecting it to be a typical one out on the town as the activities assistant.

“I work with people who have brain injuries and other disabilities from KSI. We do volunteer work, go to parks, exercise, go bowling … we do all kinds of different activities,” she started to explain. “So, on this particular day, we stopped at different stores. Sometimes, we shop and sometimes we get out and talk.”

During their trip into the community, one of the three participants with Ms. Drummond became physically distressed.

That’s when Ms. Drummond sprang to action.

“He started choking. I jumped out. I hadn’t started the van or anything. I said, ‘Get the seat belt off!’ I pulled the door like a super woman or somebody. Now, I’m not tall. And [the participant] is tall.”

Without a second to spare, Ms. Drummond started providing the Heimlich maneuver.

“I didn’t have time to call 9-1-1. I just started. I was talking to him, telling him, ‘Come on, come, on. Spit it out.’ The third time I did the Heimlich, seriously that piece [of food] came out. We were both relieved … I just knew I had to react right away,” she said, adding that the experience was emotional for her. “I was terrified. And he said, ‘You know what? You’re my angel. You saved my life. I was a goner.”

Once Ms. Drummond and her crew were out of danger, she alerted other leaders at KSI who told her to stay put and thanked her for her actions.

“My boss said, ‘Don’t move. Someone will relieve you. We need to make sure you’re OK, too,’” she said.

In honor of her heroic act, KSI surprised Ms. Drummond with a rare award not given to many – the Guardian Angel Award.

“It’s scary to be in an emergency situation,” KSI Director of Community Relations Alicia Hollis said. “Emergency situations also provide an opportunity to evaluate what happened and why. Ms. Drummond’s supervisors have reviewed the incident with her and will continue to provide the appropriate training. Thankfully, Michelle has first aid and CPR training, which kicked into gear when she needed it.”

The award included a certificate, Guardian Angel wings pin and a ceremony at KSI where her peers and the participants could cheer her on for her life-saving act.

Ms. Drummond had a thanks of her own to give before the episode was over that day — to KSI for the yearly emergency training required by all staff.

“I went and hugged my boss and thanked her for that training. Without them doing that every year and making sure we know how to do it, I don’t know what would have happened. It’s important. I hope everyone takes those classes seriously because I never thought I would have to do it,” she said.

“I’m very sensitive. I know that was something amazing, but I didn’t think they would give me a certificate and little wings. As long as I’m around, I’m everyone’s guardian angel. I just love the joys and the smiles. They keep me coming. They’re looking forward to seeing me like I’m looking forward to seeing them. I believe I do know I’ve made a difference in a lot of the people’s lives I’ve met here. They help me to be a better person, a more caring person.”

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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