Ceres teacher a ‘superhero’ after helping choking fourth-grader

naustin@modbee.comApril 18, 2014 

— Teacher Emily Harry wasn’t wearing a cape or tights on Sinclear Super Hero Day, but the fourth-grader she saved says she’s his hero now.

Nine-year-old Jagvir Dool was enjoying a large piece of a dehydrated fruit strip he brought from home during morning snack time in Harry’s class at Sinclear Elementary on Thursday.

When he tried to swallow, it stuck in his throat, Jagvir said, sitting with his family at home Friday. “I could only breathe a little bit, not a lot,” he said, demonstrating a wheezy gasp for air.

“He was kind of sitting by me, and I started to hear a little squeaking noise,” Harry said by phone from her home Friday. “So I asked, ‘J.D., are you OK?’ He wouldn’t turn around. He couldn’t talk. I turned him around. His face – he just had that look of terror,” she said.

She stood him up and tried to do the Heimlich maneuver, but nothing happened. Harry sent a student running to the office for help. About 30 seconds later, Jagvir managed to spit out a large ball of the sticky fruit roll.

“As soon as that happened, he started coughing a little bit. He had that look of fear on his face,” Harry said. The shaken Jagvir was escorted to office, and staff called his parents.

Harry estimated the whole ordeal lasted less than two minutes. “It felt like a long time,” she said.

The incident was the first time in 13 years of teaching she’s had to use her first-aid training. “You never think it’s going to happen, especially at that age, fourth grade. But you never know,” Harry said. “Thank God, he was all right.”

At the Dool house, Jagvir’s family had just learned of the close call. Mom Rashpal Kaur said she speaks limited English and did not recognize the word “choking.” Jagvir was fine, so she didn’t worry. Harry’s call to the family at the behest of The Bee on Friday broke the news.

“I appreciate the teacher. Thanks to her for saving his life,” said dad Satvir Dool.

Sister Rajvir Dool, 14, said she’s glad her little brother’s OK. “That’s just crazy,” she said, smiling down at him.

The misadventure fell on Super Hero Day, a spirit day declared for the last day of school before spring break on the Sinclear campus. Jagvir is a Spider-Man and Mario Bros. fan who hopes to one day be a firefighter, his family said. Asked to name his favorite superhero, however, he shouted, “Mrs. Harry!”

No more dehydrated fruit strips for his family, Satvir Dool said, looking over at his son.

Jagvir added, “Mrs. Harry banned them from the class.”

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at naustin@modbee.com or (209) 578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.

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