Annie Fussner was reading to her social studies class the afternoon of Oct. 18 in John Sells Middle School when one of her students walked up in front of her, unable to breathe.
Seventh-grader Jack Andrews was red-faced and unable to talk, Fussner said.
That day, Fussner used the Heimlich maneuver to help Andrews.
She learned it as part of her cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and first-aid training.
Fussner said she received the training because it was required as part of her summer job as a teacher for the Columbus School for Girls summer program.
The training was also advised for those who oversee clubs at Sells. Fussner used to work with the school’s drama club.
CPR, automated external defibrillator and first-aid training is required of a large number of staff, but is not required of all staff, said Doug Baker, Dublin City Schools district spokesman. The first-aid training does include the Heimlich maneuver, he said.
Despite being trained to perform the Heimlich maneuver, Fussner, 26, said she was afraid she was going to hurt Andrews, because she was trained to perform it on adults rather than children.
Andrews had approached her and bent over the desk in front of her, she said. She asked him twice if he could breath or cough.
“He couldn’t make any noise at all,” she said.
As the rest of her class watched, Fussner stood Andrews up and performed the Heimlich maneuver, doing it three or four times before he took a breath and dislodged the piece of candy on which he had been choking.
At that point, Fussner said, Andrews collapsed on the floor, regaining his breath.
Andrews was taken to the nurse’s office and eventually returned to classes.
Fussner said she also returned to her class, continuing to teach despite shaking and experiencing heightened adrenaline.
“I don’t feel like a hero,” she said. “I feel like I was doing my job.”
Andrews’ mother, Melissa Andrews, said she is grateful for Fussner’s calm demeanor and the way she handled the situation.
The clinic aide at the school was amazing as well, she said, calling during the weekend to check on her son.
Melissa Andrews is an elementary school teacher in the Hilliard City Schools district. She said she understands teaching brings with it responsibilities one thinks they won’t ever have to take on.
“We look at her as our hero,” she said of Fussner. “She saved our son.”