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Boys save classmate with Heimlich maneuver

May 09, 1998

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

Seventh-graders Samuel Guy and Jason Ferguson learned about the life-saving Heimlich maneuver in health class last September, but never thought they would actually get to try it out for real.

But on Friday the two Northern Middle School students put their education to heroic use in preventing a classmate from choking to death on a brownie during lunch.

"It felt real good," said Samuel, 12.

It was Samuel who first rushed to the aid of John Titus, another seventh-grader, who was seated at the same lunch table. John was in obvious distress, unable to talk and pointing to his throat.

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"It was tense. At first I was scared because I didn't know what was wrong with him," Samuel said.

Jason, 12, was sitting across the table from John and also knew his classmate needed help.

"I looked over at him. His face was real red and he was crying," Jason said.

Samuel said he first tried to dislodge whatever John was choking on by striking him in the back, but that didn't seem to help. But then Samuel recalled the Heimlich maneuver he learned in health class and tried to dislodge the food by wrapping his arms around John's midsection and thrusting a fist into his classmate's abdomen.

Samuel said he made a couple of Heimlich attempts that nearly dislodged the food, then Jason took over and was able to get the brownie out of John's throat after a few thrusts.

"I was just leaning over him saying, 'John, are you OK?'" Jason said.

John was well enough to stay in school and finish the day. He could not be reached Friday evening.

The boys' parents said they are very proud of how their children took what they learned in the classroom and used it in an emergency.

"That is amazing," said Charlene Guy, Samuel's mother.

Mary Ferguson, Jason's mother, said, "I'm overwhelmed. It was a great thing that he did and I can't believe he remembered what to do."

But the proudest of all might be health teacher Nadine Stauffer, the woman who taught the boys about the Heimlich maneuver.

"You hope you are making an impression, and when you hear about something like this, it's really rewarding," Stauffer said.

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