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Mendota High School assistant principal Joe Masini (right) supervised an uneventful student dismissal at the end of the school day Tuesday. He also supervised the cafeteria during lunch earlier in the day when a student started choking. Masini performed the Heimlich maneuver and dislodged the food that caused the choking. Tuesday was the last day the cafeteria served lunch since students will get out early during final exams through the end of the week. NT photo/Tamara Abbey
MENDOTA — It was just another day supervising students in the cafeteria Tuesday when Audrey Stewart started motioning for assistant principal Joe Masini to come over to her table at Mendota High School.
“She was saying, ‘He needs help,’” Masini recalled. “He was making the choking motion and he was coughing but it wasn’t a real powerful cough. I could tell he wasn’t getting much air.”
Masini remembered his training and performed the Heimlich maneuver on the choking student. With that quick response, the student was again breathing normally.
“Every year we go through a refresher course on CPR and everything,” Masini said. “This is the first time I’ve ever had to do something like this.
“It was really a relief when he was able to breathe again so it worked out.”
Masini also credits all the students in the crowded cafeteria for remaining calm throughout the brief crisis. He said they all knew what to do and, like any other place that serves food, the charts on the walls help the students remember signs of choking.
“The kids stayed calm in the cafeteria and they gave him a round of applause when it was over — a very big round,” added superintendent Jeff Prusator.
He commended Masini for remaining calm and remembering the procedure from the routine training. “I think the important thing is that we all go through the training and this will remind us all that, if the situation arises, we are trained to handle it,” Prusator said.
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