Watch CBS News

Freedom Area school resource officer saves choking 8-year-old student

Choking Freedom Area elementary student saved by school resource officer
Choking Freedom Area elementary student saved by school resource officer 02:57

NEW SEWICKLEY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) -- A school resource officer saved an 8-year-old student choking on a plastic bottle cap in the Freedom Area School District. 

Wednesday was a normal day on the job for New Sewickley Township school resource officer Rick Jones. It was lunch period, he was making his rounds in Freedom Area Middle School and heading into the elementary school. 

"The buildings are connected, so I do make my rounds in the Freedom elementary school and as I went into their office and I was leaving, someone advised that there was a student choking in the cafeteria," Jones said. 

Jones ran to the cafeteria and found a school nurse trying to help the student who was clearly choking and unable to breathe. Jones said the nurse was doing the Heimlich maneuver and he immediately jumped in to take over and do the Heimlich maneuver, successfully dislodging the water bottle cap that had gotten stuck in the student's throat.

Jones says it all happened so fast.

"I probably got tunnel vision because I was focused on her. I know it was super loud in there and I almost thought of taking her to another room by herself away from everybody but time wasn't -- I knew I had to act right now, just to get that dislodged from her throat," he said.

The student could breathe again and wasn't injured. "The immediate actions of School Resource Officer Jones clearly prevented a tragedy from taking place," New Sewickley police said in a news release. 

This was the first time Jones had to do the Heimlich, but he knew exactly what to do. He's a certified CPR instructor.

"I've been trained, went through training several years ago to be an instructor for CPR, AED, first aid, and that's just part of the training. We get to be updated every two years, just keep the certification going," Jones said. 

Jones has been assigned as a school resource officer at the Freedom Area Middle School for the past three years. New Sewickley police said Jones is a 15-year veteran with the department and he "excels in the performance of his duties as a School Resource Officer on a daily basis." 

Jones doesn't know why the student started choking on the bottle cap, but he said he sees kids chewing on bottle caps a lot. He said that can be very dangerous and can lead to choking. The incident also shows the importance of first aid and training for first responders and adults. He's planning to do training at the school next month. 

"I just know when I'm down there working with the kids, it's almost like kids of my own. I do have two myself, you start making relationships," Jones said.  

He says he'll never forget what the second grader said to him. 

"After it was dislodged, her first words were -- I'm sorry," he said as he choked up."'You saved my life.'" 

The student did go to the hospital to be checked out. Jones spoke with the student's mother on Thursday. She said she is doing OK and will be back at school Friday, and she couldn't stop thanking him for saving her daughter's life. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.