SLATER-MARIETTA, S.C. — Charlie Ott, a third grade student at Slater-Marietta Elementary, was enjoying a lunch of beef and cheese nachos when he suddenly choked on a chip.
“My friend Collin could hear that I was choking and he told our teacher,” he said.
Collin said he looked away from Charlie for a second and when he looked back, Charlie had his hands around his neck and was red in the face.
“I could tell Charlie wasn’t breathing. So I yelled, ‘Miss Nelson, Charlie’s choking!’”
School custodian Tammy Lopez was working in the cafeteria at the time.
”I heard a student holler, ‘He’s choking, He’s choking!’ so I jumped up and ran to the table,” she said. “I grabbed him up from the table and got him in a standing position and proceeded to give him the Heimlich maneuver until I could free the object. There were people around him asking if he was okay and when he said ‘yes’ I knew he was able to breathe again.”
Charlie did not suffer any effects, and he's very happy to describe how he feels about 'Miss Tammy'.
“I think Miss Tammy is amazing and is probably the best person in the whole school,” he said.
Miss Tammy said she took the CPR/first responder class at Slater-Marietta as well as at a previous position before joining the district.
“I had to use this skill once before when my youngest daughter got choked, but this is the first time I’ve had to use it in the workplace,” she said.
“Seeing Charlie happy and healthy is a relief,” she said. “It feels wonderful to be able to help someone out. Everyone needs to learn how to do the Heimlich and CPR, because you never know when you might have to use it.”