Visalia teen saves fellow student's life using Heimlich maneuver technique learned in class

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Midway through a recent lunch break on the campus of Golden West High in Visalia, sophomore Michael Falcon was hanging out with a friend like he does just about every day when he noticed something wasn't right.

He rushed to help a kid he had never met before -- Michael quickly realized the boy was choking and sprang into action.

Following a series of thrusts to the boy's diaphragm, out popped the food that was lodged in his throat.

"First thing I did, I ran over to him and patted him on his back and a ball of food came out. He said there was a little more, so that's when I went behind him and started giving him the Heimlich maneuver," Michael said.

Golden West offers a First Responders Academy for those students looking to get into law enforcement or emergency medical services.

Michael is enrolled and learned how to perform the Heimlich maneuver last year.

"Michael did react and used those skills, because there's nothing more rewarding for a teacher than to see a student use the skills and knowledge that we taught them and in this case, save a life," said Dave Rodgers, a teacher at Golden West.

Rodgers is EMT certified and has been teaching First Responder courses at the school for the last four years; but this was the first time he's witnessed one of his students render aid on campus the way Michael did.

"I was not surprised at all that Michael did this. What we've taught them is not only the skills, but to go get help," he said. "He knows I'm an EMT and sent his friend in to grab me. When I got out there, Michael was doing what he's trained to do."

Michael is now being called a hero by administrators and fellow students on campus.

"It's not a surprise to me that Michael jumped in there to help. What's better is that we're teaching them life skills that they can use," said principal Jose Fregoso.

Administrators have plans to recognize Michael for his heroic act at the next school board meeting.
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