NEW YORK (KRON/CNN) — An 8-year-old boy in New York is alive Thursday thanks to a school aide.
The woman knew exactly what to do when she saw the boy choking during lunchtime in the school cafeteria.
It was a frightening story from Joseph Elsis who was rushing to finish his hamburger at school last week.
“I took too big a bite and started choking,” Elsis said. “I just ran up to Miss Josephine like this even though I didn’t know that was the sign.”
“I just instantly grabbed him and gave him a couple Heimlich maneuvers,” school aide Josephine Catanzaro said. “It took like three or four before the food actually came out.”
Joseph can laugh about it now but admits he was scared, and his mom calls Josephine her son’s guardian angel.
“This could have went differently,” Joseph’s mother Brigida said. “In a blink of an eye, I could have lost him, and I’m so thankful and happy that Josephine was there and that she was trained to save him.”
There are signs all over the school showing how to perform the Heimlich maneuver and Josephine had learned it years ago in first-aid training.
“You think you’re never going to use it,” Catanzaro said. “It’s rewarding. You saved someone’s life. It would have been devastating if I wouldn’t have been able to.”
At least two staff members are required to be certified in the Heimlich, CPR, and defibrillator.
There are six people trained at the Louis Desario School.
“We tend to overstaff because we have (a) very young population, and we like to be safe rather than sorry,” Assistant Principal Joseph Bonomi said.
Josephine showed us what she did.
“So, you place your fist between his belly button and his rib cage,” Catanzaro said. “With my other hand, I press inward and do it a couple times until the food is dislodged.”
Joseph says he knows how lucky he is.
Josephine has three grown children and says Joseph now feels like her little son.
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