Everyday heroism in the hallway

Everyday HeroToday Connie received a text that left her happier than any she’s received for a long time…maybe ever. It was a text from a friend who Connie had been thinking about a lot since Thursday afternoon. The news of the arrival of the text was also a great relief for the Parent Imperfect. It was news that Connie’s friend was at least feeling well enough to text. These stories are the stuff of parental nightmares. The one that follows is based almost entirely on what people have told Connie and myself…hearsay, that is.

On Thursday, some of the students that usually eat lunch with Connie were not at lunch. It seems that students at the nation’s oldest public school very quickly form into pretty stable little lunch groups, so Connie definitely noticed that members of her group were not there and she and the rest of the group wondered aloud where they were.

It seems that one of the kids had misplaced something important. Yes, there is a hideous invisible creature at the school that takes great pleasure in roaming the halls and robbing students (especially seventh graders) of their most important possessions. Said possessions then disappear, forever!

Being good friends, at least two others went with the latest victim of this creature to help her find this precious item. Given how strict the school is about students moving in the halls, I was amazed that such an expedition was possible, but Vince assures me that lunch is the one time that there is some acceptance of students moving through the halls, as long as they can give a good reason for their wanderings.

Connie doesn’t know if her friends actually found the missing item, but their search took up a good part of their 22-minute lunch period. Perhaps fearing an afternoon of gnawing hunger, one of them (Connie’s texting friend) decided to gobble down a sandwich before the bell rang. By whatever series of events, part of the sandwich apparently got caught in her throat, blocking her windpipe and creating a life-threatening emergency.

When it was clear that their friend was in serious trouble, at least one of the other kids ran to try to get help. The first person she found was Mr. X. We don’t know if Mr. X was teaching a class, preparing in his classroom or just wandering, himself, but he reacted to the message quickly and rushed to the side of Connie’s friend. It’s hard to think what would have happened had he decided to first ask the student what she was doing in the hallway. But he reacted like all of us would like to think we’d react, and did what he needed to do to dislodge the sandwich. Thankfully, he had apparently been trained to respond in such circumstances, and the training served him (and Connie’s friend) well. Somewhere in the course of events, Connie’s friend suffered injuries that required that an ambulance rush her to the hospital, but, thanks to Mr. X, she was breathing. According to Connie, Mr. X also went to the hospital to be checked out, himself. The text message mentioned above was the first thing that Connie heard from her friend, hence the joy in receiving it.

MockingbirdMr. X. was back in class today. He managed to keep the class focused on a certain well-known piece of literature from the U.S. South. When asked, however, he did remark that he was very happy to have been in the right place at the right time the day before, but it was not an experience that he would ever want to live through again. This, I can understand.

I am among those who occasionally wish that some teachers at BLS would be more flexible, more understanding of their students or more compassionate in their treatment of them. I will probably feel that way again before too long. But today, I’m extremely grateful for the everyday heroism of one teacher, whom I’ve heard much about, but have yet to meet. I look forward to that meeting, which will now certainly be different than it otherwise would have been.

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6 Comments

Filed under Boston Public Schools

6 responses to “Everyday heroism in the hallway

  1. Liz

    Love this. I heard about the incident and didn’t know the outcome, so am likewise relieved to hear that Connie’s friend will be OK. Thanks for the story-sharing. Hope all continue to survive, even thrive, as SY 13-14 takes shape. Hope to see you soon. – Liz

  2. Kathy

    So glad her friend is OK! I heard about this and didn’t know details. Thank you, teachers.

  3. Thanks, Liz and Kathy. As so often happens, when one relies on hearsay, one doesn’t get the whole story. Living in the house I live in, I leave out the role of the nurse at peril. It turns out that, according to an eye witness, Mr. X. attempted the Heimlich maneuver, but it “didn’t work.” I don’t know if that means that he couldn’t clear the food or could not revive the child. In any case, he then rushed to get the nurse who performed CPR and successfully revived Claudia’s friend. Ii have no idea how long she was unconscious. The girl is obviously feeling better, but will apparently remain in the ICU.for a couple of days.

  4. anonymous

    I watched in horror as two teachers did everything they could to save the life of this beautiful little girl. Both performed Heimlich for what felt like a very long time. Imagine the desperation the first teacher felt as he worried that he would fail? Imagine the pressure the second one felt when he said that he would try it next? I can’t begin to describe the anguish of this scene. Neither teacher left the student’s side at any time, and the nurse was summoned not by a teacher, but instead by the kids who had accompanied the student to search for the missing item. Even after the Heimlich maneuver succeeded in clearing the food from her throat, it was quite apparent that CPR was called for (a third teacher remained on a phone with 911 throughout the entire episode, calmly describing for the dispatcher what was happening, receiving instructions as to how to perform life-saving measures, and relaying these instructions to the two other teachers.) By this time, the school nurse had arrived, and was able to begin chest compressions, et cetera. It was about as shocking and traumatic a situation as you could imagine.

    I hesitate to share these details here, as I would not want to add to this family’s trauma should they stumble across your blog, but did wish to make clear that these three teachers, the nurse, and the two young people who went to get help did,in fact, save this child’s life.

  5. This post has now received more comments from people who know this situation much better than I. Two of them expressed that they hesitated to share the details, and so do I. Suffice it to say that there was yet another hero–a second teacher–who came to the scene and also worked frantically to save this child. The heroism of the moment was certainly greater and more shared than I knew when I wrote the first post here, and was probably greater than I’ll ever know. It seems that the recovering child is now breathing on her own, which is a very good thing.

  6. a parent

    PI: Please contact me ASAP in relation this blog post. I can’t find a contact email in your blog.

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