A Minnesota third grader is being hailed the “Heimlich Hero” by the Edina School District.
During an end-of-the-year school picnic, Zach Furman and Aiden Roberts, both 9 years old, looked to their friend Fletcher Dypwick sitting by himself, wanting him to join the rest of the class. But something was wrong.
In a perfectly executed Batman and Robin tag team, Roberts ran to alert their teacher, Colin Friden, while Furman realized Dypwick was actually choking on his lunch.
“I was turning like blue and purple,” Dypwick told ABC News affiliate, KSTP, “I just couldn’t breathe or anything.”
Remembering a technique his father taught him two weeks earlier, Furman grabbed his friend, went behind him, and started performing the Heimlich maneuver.
“It’s where you put your hands together and you pull up on your stomach,” Furman explained to KSTP.
After five or six thrusts, little by little, chunks of food started coming out of Dypwick’s mouth. It appears he was choking on a French fry.
“The situation went from scary, to nerve-racking, and then he was kind of a celebrity with his friend Zach,” mom Nikki Dypwick told ABC News.
Mom had the boys over at her house for a play date to celebrate and to say “thank you so much for being there for him” on that sunny afternoon on May 22.
“The boys were so concerned about him, it was unreal,” she said. “They were looking to invite him over… my son literally just wanted to eat, so he sat down and started eating, it was really that simple. He wasn’t running around. He just choked, which is kind of scary,” Dypwick said.
Both teachers and the administration could not be more proud of the trio.
“They’re a very caring group of people who will help a friend in need,” Friden, 50, told ABC News. “If anything happens, you can tell the compassion that they have, especially for 9-year-olds, it’s pretty amazing when it comes out.”
Friden has been teaching third grade for 13 years at Concord Elementary and says, “I think that’s why it’s so much fun to be a teacher. Every day is a little different.”
Among his third grade classmates, Furman is seen as a little hero at Concord Elementary School. “The kids told him when he came back the next day what a great job he did and patted him on the back,” Friden said.
“I was amazed at Zach’s courage to act. It was great, really how the boys worked together to keep their friend safe,” Principal Rick Sansted told ABC News. “It speaks to the community that we are trying to build here at Concord.”
“I’m really very proud, proud of their actions and caring for one another,” Sansted added.
The boys have their last day of third grade on Friday.