A first-year teacher at Brandeis High School saved a student from choking using the life-saving skills he learned as a fifth-grader.

Clinton Woller, a biology and physics teacher, said he noticed one of his students having trouble swallowing and breathing after a piece of candy became lodged in her throat.

“She came over here to the trash can, tried to throw it up, and nothing came up,” Woller said. “She looked me in the eye, and it looked like absolute terror on her face.”

Wasting no time, Woller jumped into action, performing the Heimlich maneuver while some of his students ran to grab the school nurse.

“It didn't work the first time, so I let her go a little bit and tried to just strike her on the back, hoping to dislodge it,” Woller said. “That didn't work, so I did it one more time, and luckily it came out.”

The student, Jordan Hernandez, said she had been eating a piece of candy when she realized she was in trouble.

“I was just really scared because I never went into an experience like this, a life or death situation, but I was really happy that it turned out OK,” Hernandez said.

Woller learned the Heimlich maneuver as a fifth-grade student at Steubing Elementary School, where students within the Northside Independent School District take part in the “Choking Charlie” program to learn the skill.

Claire Manning was the school nurse at Steubing Elementary who taught the Heimlich to Woller, and now works alongside him at Brandeis High.

“It was a very significant moment in my career, to think the person I taught, actually saved a life and I got to witness the whole thing,” Manning said. “The greatest thing that he did was take action. That's a lot of what we teach the fifth graders. You’ve just got to step up and try it.”

Hernandez survived the ordeal without injury, and said she not only plans to learn the Heimlich maneuver, but also plans to stop eating candy in class.

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