Western Maine teacher saves choking sixth-grader’s life

Posted Dec. 03, 2013, at 8:06 a.m.
Last modified Dec. 03, 2013, at 8:31 a.m.

OXFORD, Maine — A veteran SAD 17 elementary school teacher was credited Monday night with saving the life of a Paris Elementary School student.

Superintendent Rick Colpitts told the SAD 17 Board of Directors that just before Thanksgiving Day recess, he received a call saying Paris Elementary School teacher Alice Deegan had saved the life of a student.

“That stops you in your tracks,” Colpitts said as he shared the news with Deegan, who was present at the Board of Directors meeting.

According to Colpitts, the sixth-grade student swallowed a water bottle cap in the school cafeteria, which got stuck in his throat.

Colpitts said Deegan immediately recognized the look of panic in the boy’s face, assessed the situation and performed the Heimlich maneuver on the student.

“The student is alive and well today because she got involved and had the knowledge to do it,” Colpitts said.

Principal Jane Fahey said she was in her office at the time of the incident, which is located next to the cafeteria.

“The kids recognized something was wrong,” Fahey said. “It went dead silent.”

Once the cap was dislodged and it was ascertained the boy was all right, Fahey said there was a huge roar from the children and a standing ovation for their teacher.

Assistant Superintendent Patrick Hartnett said teachers are not mandated to be trained in the Heimlich, but some do have the training.

This is not the first time Deegan has been credited with saving a student. Colpitts said about 20 years ago, Deegan was credited with saving the life of a Rowe Elementary School student during an undisclosed incident.

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