The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

June 2, 2014

Saving the day for boy

Quick action revived choking first-grader

By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer

SHARPSVILLE — A first-grader who appeared to die for a few seconds on Thursday was up and running around the schoolyard with his classmates the next day.

“It’s a miracle,” Superintendent Brad Ferko said. “I saw the young man go limp. He was not breathing.”

Sharpsville Elementary School teacher Mike Anglin was in the cafeteria with Ferko during breakfast on what he thought would be another typical school day when a piercing scream shattered the early-morning calm.

“Help! He’s choking, he’s choking!”

Anglin and Ferko sprang into action as if they had done this together before.

Anglin was born and raised in Sharpsville and has been teaching in the district for nine years. Ferko was hired last summer after serving as superintendent for 10 years in another school district.

Anglin and Ferko took turns performing the Heimlich on the boy, but were relieved to see Sharpsville patrolman Brendan Gill and the school’s nurse, Debbie Hartwick, had arrived to help.

“It seemed like a drill,” Anglin said. “It was a collaborative effort that past training and past efforts put in place.”

The boy was eating an egg salad sandwich for breakfast and had a “big ball of egg” stuck in his esophagus, according to Gill.

“Ferko and Anglin were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing when I came in,” Gill said.

Gill rolled the boy over and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

“He stopped breathing,” Gill said. “He didn’t have a pulse.”

After the fifth or sixth compression, the boy was revived.

“I saw the lights come on (in his eyes) and he took a decent gasp of air,” Gill said. “After a couple minutes in the ambulance he was up playing his GameBoy.”

Anglin and Hartwick were reluctant to share their story because they felt as if they were reliving it.

“It was so emotional,” Anglin, father of an almost one-year-old, said as he teared up. “I just kept seeing my daughter’s face.”

Hartwick, mother of two children in the district, said she was comforted when a fifth-grade teacher standing behind the team asked God to be with each person who worked to save the boy’s life.

“Everybody played a role,” Ferko said. “It was truly an amazing situation.”

Principal Matt Dieter followed the district’s emergency plan and placed the school on lock-down for about a half hour.

After the day’s events, the school coined the term, “Code White,” to alert teachers of a medical emergency. Gill said trauma training for teachers is in the works to make sure all school personnel know how to perform the life-saving techniques used by Anglin, Ferko, Gill and Hartwick.

During a very busy “field day” on school grounds Friday, there was a lot of hand-shaking and appreciation for those involved in saving the boy’s life.

“We love our students,” Hartwick said. “We’d do the same thing again in a heartbeat.”