VALHALLA, N.Y. – Students in the Emergency Medical Services program at the Southern Westchester BOCES learn life support techniques to use in real world situations. Two 12th-grade students, Kareem Glover and Maria Cardenas, were recently called upon unexpectedly to put their skills to the test in life-saving situations.
“I’m proud of them because it’s one thing to learn something here in the classroom but it’s a lot different to go out in the field and do it because you just don’t know how the student is going to react,” said Hanifa Muhammad, the students’ medical services teacher at BOCES.
Cardenas, of New Rochelle, was out to dinner with her parents when she observed a young man begin to choke after joking around at his table with some friends. Cardenas was able to give the man the Heimlich maneuver until the food was dislodged from his windpipe and he was able to breathe again.
Cardenas said that although she practices the Heimlich all the time in class, it was the first time she used it when a person was actually choking and she was admittedly nervous.
“At first I was kind of paralyzed in the heat of the moment and I was nervous because I started thinking what if I don’t do it right and it doesn’t work,” Cardenas said. “But then I ran over to him and asked to help and I felt pretty proud of myself afterwards.”
Glover was walking through the hallway of Woodlands High School in Hartsdale when a fellow classmate began having a seizure. While the student laid on the ground, a teacher yelled for help and that was when Glover stepped in.
“I knew immediately that they were having a seizure so I told everyone to stand back and not stick anything in her mouth and rolled her on to her side so that if she started to throw up she wouldn’t start to choke,” Glover said.
Glover was able to monitor the student until paramedics showed up and took over. The student fully recovered. Glover said it was the first time that he was ever put in a real-life situation that he needed to use life-saving techniques.
“I wasn’t really nervous at all because it happened so quickly that I didn’t really have time to think about it, it almost just happened naturally,” Glover said.
Through the program at BOCES, the students are first aid and CPR certified and are New York state certified first responders. Both students say they plan to one day become certified paramedics and remain in the professional medical field.