Jacey Staponski, daughter of Rick and Cindy Staponski, is a 10th grader at Purdy High School. On Saturday, Nov. 20, Purdy High School had their last performance of the musical "Cinderella." Following the performance, the cast and everyone that helped with the performance gathered in the cafeteria for a celebration and refreshments.
Also attending the celebration was Megan Adams, a Purdy AmeriCorps Reading Coach. Adams had been helping the high school prepare for the production.
"I was done with the play and went into the cafeteria to eat," said Staponski. "I finished the pizza and someone had just told me a funny story as I was eating a cookie and I was laughing. I still had the cookie in my mouth, but when I swallowed it, the cookie got stuck in my throat. I tried to take a drink to help it go down, but it didn't help. About that time I started coughing and was getting scared, because I couldn't breathe."
Sara Ly, a friend of Staponski's, noticed something was wrong with her friend when she began coughing. Ly began to pat Jacey on the back. Ly's actions brought the situation to Adams' attention.
"I saw Sara hitting Jacey on the back, and I realized that she was choking," said Adams. "I surprised myself by calmly standing up, walking over to her, and asked her if she was choking. She nodded yes and I then asked her if she could breathe at all and she frantically shook her head no. I saw her mother cross the room as I told Jacey that I was going to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on her and asked her if she was ready and she responded with a frantic yes.
"With three quick motions, the cookie she had been choking on was up and out just as her mother reached us," Adams recounted. "I made sure she could breathe and then let her mother comfort her as she calmed down."
Adams had never had to use the life-saving techniques that she had learned. In fact, the reading coaches had just become certified in first aid and CPR two weeks prior to this incident.
"I had only practiced during the training that the coaches had in Springfield two weeks prior," said Adams. "I had become pretty confident while I was taking the class, but you never know until you actually have to do it in a serious situation.
"It was kind of funny after it was over and we knew that Jacey was all right, everyone was wondering how I did that," said Adams. "So it really meant a lot to me to say that all of the reading coaches are required to be certified in first aid and CPR. It is a job requirement. If I hadn't been trained perhaps the outcome would not have been as good."
Jacey is doing well, and no medical treatment was necessary.
"Every since that happened," Staponski said, "I definitely make sure I chew my food very well before I swallow. At first I would sit there and chew and chew then swallow. Now I have gotten where I pay attention to how big a bite I take and how much I chew that bite.
"The incident is always in the back of my mind, and I am so grateful that Megan was there."