A quick-thinking friend saved the life of Ronnie Horton, who could have choked to death when a chicken bone became lodged in his throat during lunch Wednesday at Brien McMahon High School. The first responder was unable to stop the choking and Elliott Folston tried to do the same. Then Israel Navarro stepped in and used his CPR training to save his friend's life.
"(It's) someone's life," Navarro said. "I have to jump in and help him out."
The three 11th-graders are all members of the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program. They have already accumulated 900 hours of community service this year but expect to get more than 1,500 by graduation next year.
Navarro and Folston put their training to use when they saw their friend gasping for breath. Although Folston is not trained in CPR, he began the process and assisted Navarro as he performed the Heimlich.
Because of their heroics, the two youths could receive the rare Meritorious Achievement award, which the boys referred to as the NJROTC equivalent of the Medal of Honor. It is given only to those cadets that show an exceptional level of bravery.
Housemaster Mary Michailidis saw the events unfold in the cafeteria and tried to intervene by performing the Heimlich on Horton before the two friends intervened. But the height discrepancy between the student and Michailidis, who is hobbled by recent surgery, made it impossible for her to find the leverage to properly perform the lifesaving Heimlich.
It turned out the stricken Horton, who had begun to lose consciousness, assisted in his own rescue. While Navarro performed the Heimlich, Horton moved his friend's hand into the proper position, which ultimately helped him force the chicken bone out, clearing his throat and allowing him to breath.
The dead silence in the cafeteria turned into loud applause when the other students realized what had happened.
Although Horton said he hopes the buzz surrounding the situation will "blow over by next week," the boys' popularity had certainly increased since Wednesday.
"All these people that have never talked to me are coming up to me," Navarro said. "At prom (on Friday) I'll hear it."
Do you know how to help someone who is choking? Leave a comment below.
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