Michele Meehan, a 19-year special-education aide at Old Mill Road Elementary School in North Merrick, heard a “funny cough” behind her earlier this month in the classroom in which she works. When she turned around, Meehan saw a fifth-grade girl clearly in distress — the girl had begun choking while eating an apple during snack time.
“She was in trouble,” Meehan later recalled.
Meehan immediately ran to the student’s assistance. She performed the Heimlich maneuver, which dislodged the obstruction from the child’s windpipe.
The North Merrick School District gave Meehan a certificate of recognition and appreciation for what Superintendent David Feller called her “heroic act” at the North Merrick Board of Education’s May 14 meeting. John McDaid, the Old Mill Road principal, presented the certificate to Meehan in front of an audience of about 70 district parents and students, who gave her a resounding round of applause. McDaid credited Meehan’s “quick thinking” with saving the student from choking.
“I’m sure anyone would have done the same thing,” Meehan said afterward.
McDaid and Feller also gave credit to Karen Nolan, a phys-ed teacher at Camp Avenue Elementary School and a first aid and CPR instructor, for having provided first aid and CPR training to staff members throughout the district. Nolan has trained all of the district’s administrators, custodians and cafeteria aides in these life-saving techniques, and she has given the training on an optional basis to district teachers and aides, according to Feller. Meehan said she received first aid and CPR training from Nolan in October 2011.