Teacher’s aide rescues first grader choking on meatball


CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A teacher’s aide at Shatekon Elementary School acting fast in a scary situation, proving educators don’t just change lives. Sometimes, they save them!

It was a typical lunch period amid a not-so-typical school year. “It did just kind of kick in for me without thinking,” said teacher’s aide Donna Cusick.

She was keeping a watchful eye on a class of first graders when something went wrong. “I heard someone say, ‘Max, are you ok?’ He had this kind of shocked, panicked look on his face, he wasn’t speaking he was turning from pink to red,” she said.

Mrs. Cusick immediately gave him the Heimlich maneuver and after three thrusts—

“Up came some Spaghetti-o’s! I didn’t think that was what was causing the problem, but he was no longer panicking, he could breathe, he could talk to me, and it wasn’t until I went around the front of his desk that I saw on a ground a tiny, little meatball had landed,” said Cusick.

“What did you think about her saving the day and helping you?” NEWS10’s Mary Wilson asked Max Meyer.

“That she was nice. I said thank you and my grandma gave me a gift card and a card to give to her,” he said.

Max’s whole family is deeply grateful for Mrs. Cusick’s heroic actions. “Thank you for being there and paying attention and not being afraid to step in,” said Max’s mom, Kelly Meyer.

Mrs. Cusick even got a special mention in the school newsletter, reassuring parents that their kids are in excellent care. “You want to know that they’re in good hands and that someone is going to take control of a situation like that,” she said.

Mrs. Cusick commends her fellow educators and students alike for doing their part amid the stress of the pandemic and weekly changes to protocol. “We are here for your students in these scary times, we want to keep things as calm and normal and safe as possible,” she said.

Thrown together under saucy circumstances, she and Max are on good terms, despite the bad tastes left in both their mouths. “Max and I are bonded for life, and I heard he’s sworn off meatballs for the time being, which I don’t blame him,” laughed Cusick.


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