ergeant Elbert Shelley of the Gordon County Sheriff’s School Resource Officer (SRO) Unit was on duty in the Commons Area at Sonoraville High School when a student, who was choking and in obvious distress, ran to him.

Sergeant Shelley quickly realized that this student’s airway was obstructed, and immediately performed the Heimlich Maneuver on him, dislodging the obstruction (a portion of food). Sergeant Shelley called for help and remained until the arrival of emergency medical personnel. The student was treated and released. Sergeant Shelley and the rest of the Sheriff’s Office staff had just recently underwent emergency cardiopulmonary medical in-service training in August. Sergeant Shelley said that the fresh training aided in his ability to respond rapidly to the emergency. Sonoraville High School Principal Amy Stewart made the following comments regarding the incident: “I want to commend Officer Shelley for his quick and decisive actions using the Heimlich Maneuver to help a choking student. His swift response and effective life saving skills were exemplary. We are grateful for the presence of officers from the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office in our schools and their commitment to the welfare of our students. This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of having trained professionals like Officer Shelley on our campus.” 

On Friday, October 6, Sheriff Mitch Ralston presented Sergeant Shelley with the Sheriff’s Office Meritorious Service Award medal for life saving. Sheriff Ralston described Sergeant Shelley as a hero who is an outstanding example of a public servant. Sergeant Shelley’s award citation from the sheriff read in part that his actions resulted in the preservation of human life, and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Sheriff’s Office. Sergeant Shelley was recognized in 2021 by the Atlanta Scottish Rite for exemplary service as a school resource deputy. Sheriff Ralston also said that he is proud of the level of trust and confidence placed in the School Resource Officers by all of the students and school staff.