NEW BRITAIN - A local paraprofessional is being hailed a hero after saving a Smith Elementary School student from choking a few weeks ago.
“She was very aware of her surroundings and we couldn’t be more proud of the actions she took that day,” said Principal Karen Falvey.
Elba Ferrer, 55, of New Britain, was recognized during Monday’s Board of Education meeting during which she was commended and applauded by all in attendance. Ferrer has worked as a paraprofessional in the school district for 29 years -17 at Smith Elementary.
On the day of the incident, Ferrer was on lunch duty at a peanut-free table in the school’s cafeteria. The child, a 10 year-old third-grader, was eating a pizza stick when a piece became lodged in his throat. The boy made gestures indicating he could not breathe.
Without hesitation, Ferrer took hold of the student and performed the Heimlich maneuver.
“I didn’t think about it. I just went in and did it,” said Ferrer. “I needed to be there for the child.”
Ferrer was able to force the food from the child’s mouth within seconds.
Ferrer had learned how to do the Heimlich maneuver in first aid classes offered by the school district before each school year, but this was the first time she’s ever had to use it, she said.
“The nurse shows them the steps, but to put it into practice, it takes confidence and courage,” said Falvey.
After the incident, the child was given milk and brought to the nurse. He was checked and said to be OK.
Ferrer said the emotions of the day did not overcome her until she arrived home that night and recalled the events to her husband.
“It all happened so fast,” she said. “I’m just very happy that I was able to help the child and the outcome was good.”
The boy she saved greeted her with a big hug the next morning and thanked her for coming to his aid.
“She always has the student’s best interest at heart and this incident just proves that,” Falvey said.
Michelle France can be reached at 860-801-5087 or firstname.lastname@example.org.