New Castle News

October 20, 2013

School employees rescue choking girl

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Two Shenango school district employees are credited with saving a student from choking in the cafeteria.

Brian Cooper, a seventh-grade teacher, and David Tyler, school security officer, ran to the aid of 12-year-old Kaelyn LaScola Thursday after being alerted by another student that she was choking, according to superintendent Michael Schreck.

He said the junior high student was eating lunch when she started to choke.

“I was at lunch and I was eating a meatball sub and there was really thick cheese on it,” Kaelyn said Friday afternoon as she recounted her ordeal. “When I went to swallow it, it got stuck in my throat and I couldn’t get it out because it kept getting stuck to the wire on my braces.”

Her cousin, Bella Cassano, and her two good friends, Annalise Cook and Melina Mangino, were having lunch with her and saw her choking. They ran and told Cooper, a lunch monitor, and he alerted Tyler.

The cafeteria has radios to call the school nurse, so Cooper immediately summoned the nurse, Schreck explained.

They asked the girl if she could breathe and she shook her head no. Tyler then performed the Heimlich maneuver, which dislodged the piece of food, Schreck said.

She was still choking, but she was able to breathe after that, Schreck said.

“The security guard got some of it out for me,” Kaelyn said, “and he told me to go to the bathroom and try to get the rest out.”

Her parents were called and her grandmother took her to the hospital as a precaution.

Schreck credited the two employees for their quick response and actions.

Kaelyn’s mother, Brianne LaScola, said Friday she is grateful the district’s employees have Heimlich training.

LaScola, who is in nursing school, was working when she got a call that something had happened at the school and learned Kaelyn had choked.

“She said the security guard came over and gave her the Heimlich maneuver.”

LaScola said the hospital did a chest X-ray on her daughter.

“She’s a little sore from the Heimlich, but there were no broken bones.”

“I’m very pleased,” LaScola said of the school district’s responses. “Being in nursing school, I know how to react, but for people who are not, it’s awesome they are trained to know how to do it. My mother-in-law actually called the school and thanked the nurse today on the phone.”

“When the security guard performed the Heimlich, it hurt,” Kaelyn said, adding, “I was scared and I was crying.”

“I’m a little sore in my torso and throat today, but other than that I’m fine. I’m grateful that they were there.”