NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — She remained calm amid chaos. A heroic school aide came to the rescue of a child who was turning blue and choking in the cafeteria.
“I am lucky to be alive, and feel good to be alive,” Azeem Keshwani told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.
The 12-year-old with braces spoke with the wisdom of an adult on Thursday following a harrowing ordeal in the school cafeteria.
“I was rushing to finish my lunch. I swallowed two pieces at once, and they got stuck. One piece got stuck. I was trying to swallow. It didn’t work so I went like this, and my friends just ran down to Mrs. DelPonte,” Keshwani said.
Mary DelPonte is a Great Neck South Middle School aide.
“Azeem and his friends really were the stars of this. He got their attention, and they conveyed to me he was choking so quickly that I was able to rush right over,” she said.
“I couldn’t breathe for like a minute and a half because my airway was blocked,” Keshwani explained.
Keshwani said that he tried to cough, but it didn’t work.
The clock was ticking as DelPonte patted Azeem’s back and then flipped him around.
“I remembered my training, med the fist, put it on his lower abdomen, pushed, and pulled back as hard as I could two times and out came that food,” she said.
Azeem’s face was blue and then grey, it began to turn pink amid tears, then cheers in the cafeteria.
“A very emotional experience for everybody, my coworkers, we all worked together. It was really pretty scary, but thank god all came out well,” DelPonte said.
“You have to realize that someday you could save someone’s life. That’s what Mrs. DelPonte did for me,” Keshwani said.
The 100 teachers and staff at Great Neck South are already certified. Now, the 800 students at the school will also learn the Heimlich maneuver and cpr.
Keshwani’s parents said that they are overwhelmed with gratitude for the heroism inside the school.
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