Allen Park Middle School’s assistant principal saves life of choking student

Everything happened within seconds

Assistant principal at Allen Park Middle School comes to rescue when student starts choking.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The assistant principal at Allen Park Middle School came to the rescue when an eighth grader started choking on food in the lunchroom.

The student wanted to remain anonymous but told Local 4 there were two heroes, his assistant principal and his friend.

That student said his friend is who noticed something was wrong.

“He was like asking me ‘Can you breathe?’ And I was trying to and I realized I couldn’t and I guess that’s when the panic started to come in,” the student said.

His friend got the attention of Bruce Andrews, the assistant principal, who was just a few feet away.

“I looked around and I saw my friend here, kind of grabbing his throat a little bit, ran over to him and started doing the Heimlich. After about three or four good thrusts. It finally came out,” said Andrews.

It happened within seconds. After, the student felt fine and went back to eating his lunch. The school called the eighth graders’ parents.

Both Andrews and the student said the reality of the situation ending differently didn’t hit them until later that day.

Andrews knows he didn’t exactly do the Heimlich maneuver correctly but is thankful the quick action worked and saved that students’ life. It’s a moment he will never forget.

“...because, you know that you made a difference,” said Andrews.

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CDC’s tips on how to react when someone is choking

Know how to help someone who is choking. Giving abdominal thrusts is a method of applying pressure to remove an obstruction, like a piece of food, from a person’s windpipe. Along with hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (or CPR), knowing how to respond in a choking emergency is a basic life-saving skill that anyone can learn and teach to others.

If you suspect a person is choking and/or see someone giving the universal sign of choking -- holding their neck with one or both hands -- immediately take the following steps:

  • Ask the person if they are choking. DO NOT perform first aid if the person is coughing forcefully and is able to speak.
  • If they are unable to speak, perform abdominal thrusts:
    • Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around the person’s waist. For a child, you may have to kneel.
    • Make a fist with one hand. Place the thumb side of your fist just above the person’s navel, well below the breastbone.
    • Grasp the fist tightly with your other hand.
    • Make a quick, upward and inward thrust with your fist.
    • Check if the object was dislodged.
    • Continue thrusts until the object is dislodged or the person loses consciousness.
  • Call 911 if the person loses consciousness. Always call 911 in a life-threatening emergency.

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.