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State to honor two local teenage lifesavers

May 17, 1999

RescuersBy BRUCE HAMILTON / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




Because they thought and acted quickly to save another student, two Hagerstown teenagers will receive Maryland Emergency Medical Service Citizen Awards today.

Northern Middle School students Jason Ferguson and Samuel Guy are the youngest recipients at this year's EMS awards reception in Baltimore.

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They join other heroes honored for rescues and community contributions. The two eighth-graders became life-savers a year ago when they performed the Heimlich maneuver on a classmate in the cafeteria.

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"We thought these guys really worked quickly," said Jim Brown, spokesman for the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services Systems.

"We're really happy with them," said Principal Richard Gehrman. "The great thing was, they learned it in health class."

John Titus was sitting with the two other boys on May 8, 1998, when he choked on a brownie. He pointed to his throat in distress, unable to talk.

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

Samuel tried to dislodge the food by striking John on the back, but it didn't work. He recalled the Heimlich maneuver, wrapped his arms around the other boy's midsection and applied pressure to his abdomen.

After a couple of attempts, Jason took over and, after a few thrusts, freed John's airway. John was well enough to finish the day at school. The young rescuers' mothers both said they are still proud.

"It's pretty exciting," said Mary Ferguson, who will attend the awards ceremony with her parents and ex-husband.

"The fact that they paid attention makes me happy," said Charlene Guy, who said she will attend with her husband, the Rev. Mark Guy, and other family members.

"We were very pleased when we found out he did this maneuver that helped his friend."

Health teacher Nadine Stauffer also will attend the event. She taught the boys the Heimlich maneuver in September 1998 when her class studied the body's respiratory system.

Stauffer said she was ecstatic then and now about the boys' heroism, especially because it demonstrated how much they had learned.

"Sometimes you wonder, do they really listen?" she said. "You never know when what you're teaching is going to make a difference."

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