Jessica Foster, a teacher’s aide in New Jersey, is being applauded as a hero for saving the life of Kayla Lopez, a 7-year-old girl who choked while eating lunch at her school in Cliffside Park.
John Lopez, Kayla’s father, is an officer in the nearby Guttenberg Police Department, and he and his wife say Foster is “an angel.”
“I was eating a steak, and I was sitting down, then my steak got stuck,” little Kayla recalled to ABC News.
Fortunately, Foster came out of her classroom and used the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the piece of meat stuck in Kayla’s windpipe. The technique involves hugging the victim’s belly from behind and applying strong compressions with both hands, in an inward-upward direction, over the area between the chest and the navel.
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The family is grateful that the school aide intervened when their daughter struggled to breathe. “She simply put aside all fear without hesitation. She did what she did and saved my daughter’s life,” said Kayla’s mother, Natasha Madrid.
“I’m thankful he went into that adrenaline mode: ‘I’m going to do what I have to do, and there will be no more consequences. Whatever the situation is, we’re going to make it,'” said her father, Officer Lopez.
In a similar case, exactly one year ago, a Hispanic school safety officer and former NYPD officer was hailed as a hero after saving the life of a Latina girl who was choking while eating on her lunch break in Orange County.