by Aila Boyd

Sidney Williamson (center) listens as Fire Chief Gilbert Sanchez recounts her lifesaving actions at a city council meeting.

Sidney Williamson, a 2015 graduate of James River High School, had no idea that her CPR training would pay off the way that it did.

She became certified while in high school through the American Red Cross in order to work as a lifeguard– not to come to the rescue of a 6-year-old girl named Frida in Mission, Texas while working as a camp intern at a church.
“You most likely won’t have to use what we’re teaching you, but we do it just in case,” is what Williamson said she was told about the CPR training when she first became a lifeguard.
According to Williamson, several small miracles transpired on July 10, 2018 that allowed for Frida’s life to be spared.
That morning, Frida was dropped off at the El Mesias United Methodist Church by her parents while consuming a chicken sandwich. While eating the sandwich, she started choking. She eventually lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest.
Williamson was supposed to be inside the church working on a task, but somehow ended up outside where Frida had just been dropped off.
“God puts us in places,” Williamson said. “He has perfect timing.”
Luckily, she knew exactly what to do.
She immediately came to Frida’s rescue. The little girl had a pulse, Williamson said, but wasn’t breathing. First, she performed the Heimlich maneuver, but to no avail. Frida’s body went limp.
She then called upon her CPR training in a last ditch effort to save Frida’s life. While she performed CPR, one of the other staff members called 9-1-1, while the pastor prayed over Frida’s body.
She performed CPR for four minutes, during which time it didn’t appear to be working. Frida’s body turned blue. Her lips turned gray.
“It was a messy situation, but through all of that, I had so much peace,” Williamson said. “I know that only came from Jesus Christ.”
She said that while performing CPR, she heard a voice telling her that she needed to press harder. She listened to the voice even though she feared she was doing damage to Frida’s small body.
“I know it’s not me who saved her,” she said. “Jesus saved her.”
Reinforcements finally arrived. Williamson explained that fire and ambulance personnel just so happened to be working a funeral less than a block away from the church, which allowed for them to respond immediately to the 9-1-1 call.
Just as they arrived on the scene, during the second cycle of CPR, the piece of sandwich was dislodged, clearing the passageway.
Frida was hospitalized following the ordeal, but returned to the church within a couple of weeks.
Reflecting upon that fateful day, Williamson remained humble. “Anyone could have done CPR,” she insisted.
In recognition of her heroic actions, the City of Mission honored Williamson with the city’s Citizens Lifesaving Award.
Williamson currently attends Liberty University. She’s pursuing a degree in social work.She said that she still keeps in touch with Frida and her family. Williamson hopes to return to El Mesias United Methodist Church in the near future.

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