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Student uses Heimlich learned in school on choking boy

Just a week after learning first aid and CPR, including the Heimlich maneuver, in health class, Ta’Niya Lomax put her new skills into action.

During her shift working on a mid-October weekend at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, where she assists people in wheelchairs, the Byron Center High School senior noticed a teenage boy who was choking, and rushed to his aid. She said she was standing by wheelchairs on the jet bridge, which connects the plane to the airport gate, when a boy who was eating a chocolate bar ran into a pole.

The boy started choking and grabbing at his throat, she said. She remembered what she learned in teacher Ann Schuelke’s class: “Mrs. Schuelke taught us that means complete blockage, and the person needs help,” Ta’Niya recalled.

Ta’Niya stepped up to administer the Heimlich maneuver. “In three or four thrusts, the chocolate popped right out. I never got his name. … I had to get back to work.”

Ta’Niya said she almost forgot to tell Schuelke about the incident, but wrote a note to herself to remember. “Two weeks ago I would have thought patting him on the back would help.”

Schuelke said she’s glad to be able to teach students first aid. 

“I’m not surprised Ta’Niya was willing to jump in and help out someone in need. She is a caring individual, and I’m glad she had the confidence in her first aid skills to help.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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