Sometimes students lament when will they ever use the lessons they learn in class. That idea hit close to home as lifesaving skills taught in health class at Jackson Middle School potentially saved a student’s life earlier this month.
When JMS student Aaron Magness saw his friend Malachi Franz choking during lunch at school on Nov. 2, Magness quickly performed the Heimlich maneuver, a lesson he learned in Ann Stalboerger’s health class last year.
The two seventh grade friends were sitting next to each other. Franz, the son of Pamela and Michal Franz of Champlin, was tipping his head back and putting Smarties, a small, hard candy, into his mouth one at a time. When someone bumped him from behind, one of the Smarities got lodged in his throat. Knowing he was in trouble, Franz held both hands up to his throat, the international sign for choking he learned in Stalboerger’s class.
“At first I thought he was joking,” Magness said. “But he got red really fast and I realized he wasn’t joking. I remembered what I learned in sixth grade (the Heimlich maneuver) so I did that.”
Franz is very grateful to his friend and said he learned a lesson.
“I feel glad for what Aaron did and I am happy he was there for me,” Franz said. “I learned it’s important to be aware of what’s going on around you.”
Magness, the son of Stacy and Andre Magness of Brooklyn Park, said his parents were very proud of his action.
“The school called my dad and my mom,” Magness said. “My mom just kept giving me hugs for about an hour. I was just glad I was there to help Malachi.”
Stalboerger, who teaches sixth and eighth grade health, is in her 16th year at JMS. She teaches the Heimlich maneuver as part of a safety and first aid unit. She demonstrates the maneuver on adult and baby mannequins.
“I was excited that a student would know what to do in that situation,” Stalboerger said. “Everyone is afraid they won’t know what to do in an emergency situation. It’s not a hard thing to do, but you do have to make sure your hands are placed in the right spot and that you use the right movement to push air up.”
“I’m very pleased to hear that someone was listening and used the skills I taught in class. It was impressive for a seventh grade student to think that fast; it was pretty cool,” she said.
Stalboerger plans to use this real-life example from the JMS cafeteria when teaching the Heimlich maneuver with future students.
“I think it will help them to take it more seriously,” she said. “They think nothing bad is every going to happen, but these things do happen in real life.”
Principal Tom Hagerty said Magness is a hero and plans to recognize him at the school.
“I’m proud of both the boys and I’m very glad Malachi is OK,” Hagerty said. “We’ve all choked at some point in our lives, Malachi was lucky to have a friend sitting nearby.”