Gizelle Felice-Carter and Kim Szucs were enjoying a lunch alone with each other during their work day as teachers at the Bradley Gardens Primary School
The mode was lively and funny on this Monday, March 6, in Ms. Felice-Carter’s classroom that educates students in Grades Kindergarten and First for the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District.
But the atmosphere changed quickly—- thanks to a mere carrot.
“We were laughing about something and I was eating a carrot at the time,” recalled Ms. Szucs, who is a Teacher’s Assistant for Grades 2-4 at Bradley Gardens. “Then I couldn’t talk. Gizelle then told me to not choke and said ‘otherwise I will have to do a Heimlich on you.’ ”
Ms. Szucs responded without peeping a word.
“I shook my head in a way to say yes.”
“I then said to Kim that you really do need a Heimlich. This was really happening,’ Ms. Felice-Carter remembered. “Kim mouthed that she could not breathe.”
Ms. Felice-Carter’s first attempt to unclog that carrot from her friend’s throat was unsuccessful.
“It failed,” she said.
But she gave it a second shot and followed through the valuable training that she received this past summer when she and other staff members in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District learned the Heimlich Maneuver as part of their lessons when she joined up to become a BR Cares On Site Manager.
That training for the school district’s After/Before School Recreation & Enrichment Program came in quite handy—and it proved to be a lifesaver, too.
“I knew that there was no time to make a call for help so I gave it another try,’ Ms. Felice-Carter said.
“The second time it worked and out came the carrot,” she happily reported.
“I think she may have used more force the second time,” Ms. Szucs declared.
School Nurse Kim Colavito was summoned, and after she looked over Ms. Szucs, the teachers returned to their classrooms.
“Our nurse said I was fine so we worked for the rest of the day,” Ms. Szucs said.
“I yelled at Kim and said ‘don’t do that again,’ “ Ms. Felice-Carter said
According to Wikipedia, Abdominal Thrusts or commonly called the Heimlich Maneuver is a first aid procedure used to treat upper airway obstructions or choking by foreign objects. American doctor Henry Heimlich is often credited for its creation that occurs when performing abdominal thrusts that involves the rescuer standing behind a patient and using their hands to exert pressure on the bottom of the diaphragm. This compresses the lungs and exerts pressure on any objects lodged in the trachea, hopefully expelling it.
“I am so thankful that I had that training,” Ms. Felice-Carter declared.
“I am thankful, too,” Ms. Szucs added.
This life-saving procedure was also called on in the school district earlier this winter when a person was saved from choking on food by Giuliana Orsillo, a hero who holds the position of Head Cafeteria/Playground Assistant at the Hamilton Primary School.
Hamilton Principal Tim Beaumont hailed his staff member for coming to the rescue on that February day.
“We are very grateful to Mrs. Orsillo for her quick thinking and decisive action! “ Principal Beaumont said.
Bradley Gardens Principal Barbara Binford also spoke for the entire school when she saluted her teacher.
“We are all very proud of Giselle for rising to take action and save Kim,” Principal Binford said.
Has Ms. Szucs eliminated carrots from her diet?
“No, I just chew them better.”
“She had to eat carrots again,” Ms. Felice-Carter chimed in. “When you fall off, you have to get back on that horse.”