October 18, 2022 by Cathy Stack
The third grader struggled to remove the cap from his water bottle, so he used his teeth. When he squeezed the bottle, the water pushed the cap down his throat and blocked his windpipe.
Unable to breathe, Robert panicked and ran over to his teacher, Janiece Jenkins. Janiece immediately performed the Heimlich maneuver, which dislodged the cap from his airway and saving his life.
Janiece said she acted on instinct during the scary moment. She recalled Robert getting up out of his seat and rushing over to the water fountain. She assumed he was getting some water to clear a cough, but he was trying to cough up the cap. Unsuccessful, he ran up to her in a panic, frantically pointing to his throat.
The boy couldn’t talk. His face was pale, and he was struggling to breathe. She knew from the desperation on his face that he was in dire need of help.
Janiece had been certified in CPR and first aid. She had recently completed a refresher course, so the first aid steps were fresh in her mind. After a few seconds of Janiece performing the Heimlich maneuver, the cap popped out of Robert’s mouth. Janiece breathed a big sigh of relief.
As soon as she saw that Robert was okay, she surveyed the classroom to make sure the other students weren’t traumatized after witnessing the incident. Then she took Robert to visit the school nurse for further examination.
Later that day, Janiece was still in a state of shock over what had happened.
“As the thoughts started to come into my head, I was starting to get emotional. I was starting to just get like, ‘What could have happened? How scary that would have been,’ and I just was like just thankful…thankful that he was OK,” Janiece shared.
A security video had captured the terrifying and surreal incident, which Janiece watched later. It had been the first time she had used her training in a real-life scenario. She felt incredibly thankful for her CPR and first aid training and for her ability to help a student in need.
Robert said, grinning, that Ms. Jenkins is his new favorite superhero.
The school and city honored Janiece for her heroism. She received an award and the key to her city by East Orange Mayor Ted Green and Congressman Donald Payne Jr.
The Foundation For a Better Life and PassItOn believe that Janiece Jenkins is a true hero. Her action perfectly demonstrates the value of bravery. Thanks to her calmness, quick thinking and training, she was able to save her student’s life. Please help us honor Janiece by sharing her inspiring story.
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