LEWISTON — Brandi Munsey’s third-graders were eating snacks and watching a movie Wednesday to celebrate the end of the school year when a student came up to her with his hands around his neck.

“He couldn’t say my name,” Munsey said. “He started to say, ‘Mrs.,’ but he couldn’t get it out. I knew then he was choking.”

The Montello Elementary School teacher pushed a chair out of the way, yelled for someone to get the school nurse and started administering abdominal thrusts, previously called the Heimlich maneuver.

The lodged piece of food didn’t come out easily. After 15 thrusts, “still nothing was moving,” Munsey said. She continued. “Finally, it came loose. Something came out. He ran to the fountain and said he needed a drink of water. I was pretty scared.”

The whole thing lasted only a few minutes, “but it seemed quite long,” she said.

Munsey said she wasn’t sure what the student was eating. It could have been a cookie.


The student was checked by the nurse.

Munsey took a break. Shaken, she asked others to cover her classroom, then went to the teachers’ room to let out her emotions.

“I didn’t want to upset the kids any more,” she said. “I started crying, relieved that the piece came out.”

Principal Jim Cliffe was walking down the B Wing, giving a new teacher who will start in the fall a tour of the school. As he walked past, he saw Munsey sitting on the floor, teary-eyed. “I asked, my goodness, are you all right?” Cliffe said.

She told him a student was choking, she performed abdominal thrusts and the student was being seen by the nurse.

Cliffe continued the tour, checked on the student and learned the boy’s parents had been notified. He returned to his office.


“Then you step back, and say, ‘Hey, wait a minute,”’ Cliffe said. There was a big potential that what just happened could have had a tragic outcome, he said.

Munsey, 25, a third-year teacher, said she had never performed the maneuver before. “I learned it from the Red Cross through baby-sitting.”

She later watched the student eat lunch. “Thank goodness he’s OK,” she said. “What a last day.”

At the parents’ request, the school did not identify the student.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.