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Elementary School Cafeteria Monitor In Westchester Saves Boy From Choking

Hillcrest Elementary School Playground/Cafeteria Monitor Lynn Riccio performed the Heimlich maneuver on Alex Loja when he choked on a piece of food in the cafeteria.
Hillcrest Elementary School Playground/Cafeteria Monitor Lynn Riccio performed the Heimlich maneuver on Alex Loja when he choked on a piece of food in the cafeteria. Photo Credit: Peekskill City School District on Facebook

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- A school aide's quick response to a life threatening situation in the cafeteria at Hillcrest Elementary School recently may have averted a tragedy.

Playground/Cafeteria Monitor Lynn Riccio noticed that Alex Loja was choking on a piece of food during his third period lunch on Thursday, Nov. 18. Thanks to her first aid skills, Riccio was able to save the boy's life when she administered the Heimlich maneuver, according to a Facebook post.

Riccio has worked in the Peekskill City School District for three years. She received first aid training from Peekskill Middle School nurse Susan Callahan in July of 2014.

In recounting the incident, Riccio said it happened quickly.

“I saw the children talking to [Alex], but his head was down on the table and he wasn’t responding. I went over to ask him what was the matter and I spoke to him several times, but he wouldn’t lift up his head to speak with me. I got down on my hands and knees to look at him and I turned his face towards me. That’s when I noticed his face was red as a beet, his eyes were slightly fixated and his mouth was open.”

Riccio contacted the main office for an ambulance and began the Heimlich maneuver, the post says.

“I just got up behind him and picked him up and began [the Heimlich maneuver], and after about two or three lunges the food came out,” Riccio said.

Alex began to breath immediately once the food was dislodged from his airway. He recalls the experience as “scary,” and says he remembers feeling a little dizzy.

“And I’ll never talk while I’m eating again,” Alex said.

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