BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A scary situation in a Fort Madison High School classroom last week has a student thankful for the quick action of a teacher.
Last week senior Diego Lozano was sipping on a bottle of water and had the cap of the bottle in his teeth when he laughed at something said in the room and the cap slipped down through the back of his mouth into his esophagus.
Lozano, who is ranked 9th in IAWrestle magazine for the upcoming wrestling season, said he alerted a friend sitting next to him that he was choking and then ran to a classroom trash can.
“It’s kind of sketchy, but I remember I was just sitting in class and laughed and it just went down,” Lozano said. “I told my friend Mike (Mosena) I was choking. I had the whole bottle cap on my lips and it went straight down my throat.”
Lozano said he began to vomit as his body reacted to the blockage and then he got very weak and sank to the floor and blacked out.
The next thing he remembers was he was standing over the trash can and someone was giving him the Heimlich Maneuver, which is quick thrusts back and up under a person’s diaphragm.
“I was standing over the trash can and my legs went weak. I went down and then she came in and Heimliched me seven or eight times and then I coughed it up,” Lozano said.
“I stopped breathing and was unconscious.”
Malissa Nelson, a special education instructor, was alerted to the situation when Mosena went running down the hall looking for help.
“I had just left the office and was heading back to my classroom. I saw a student sprinting and asked him what was going on,” she said.
“He informed me that there was a kid choking. I asked where the kid was and ran there. When I got there, the student was choking and moving very little air. I told the student that I was going to do the Heimlich and it was going to hurt.”
Nelson also got an assist in the classroom from Sara Ehlers and both were honored at an assembly Tuesday afternoon at Fort Madison High School.
Nelson said she hasn’t had training since she was in high school where she had to take first aid and CPR to work in a local daycare in New London in 1996.
“I saw the student and knew he was in desperate need of attention. I believe my adrenaline kicked in and it was instinct. Afterwards, I realized what had just happened and thought about what I did and the outcome,” Nelson said.
She said she was almost brought to tears with the assembly in her honor and still gets emotional thinking about the incident and the following recognition.
“I was so surprised! I did not expect anything like that. I was holding back tears and still do when I think about it. Being surprised by my husband and boys, and the Fort Madison staff and students surprised me. I truly believe I was in the right place at the right time.”
Fort Madison High School Principal Greg Smith said he was proud of his staff and the students for the quick action.
“So proud of my kids who alerted us and went for help. And of course Malissa!” he said.