'He’s just amazing’: NC middle school teacher saves choking student

Updated: May. 22, 2019 at 5:08 PM EDT
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BURGAW, N.C. (WECT) - Teachers often provide their students with life lessons. Last Friday, though, one teacher didn’t just give his student a lesson, he saved his life.

Matthew Noonan, an eighth grade student at Burgaw Middle School, was choking on a Hershey’s Kiss during band class.

“It went down my throat and as soon as that happened, I got up and apparently I barged through all of the stands and grabbed Mr. Rhodes. Everything was black around my peripherals and I couldn’t see anything but him, so I just went straight for him," Noonan said.

First-year teacher Erik Rhodes sprang into action, grabbing Noonan and performing a Heimlich Maneuver.

“It’s a reaction that happens. It’s not really the steps I think about that I have to go through. It’s just the reaction and the reaction worked," Rhodes said.

Rhodes downplayed his heroism, saying he just did what anyone else who knew what to do would do in that situation. Noonan and his mom, though, credit the band teacher with saving Noonan’s life.

“I cannot give that man anymore appreciation. Basically, if I could give him the world I would because he saved mine,” Dusty Noonan, Matthew’s mom, said.

“I’m going to remember this class because it’s obviously a traumatic event, so it’s just going to stay with me. But I’m going to remember him as my band teacher and I don’t know, he’s just amazing,” Matthew Noonan said.

Noonan said if Rhodes wasn’t in the classroom, he’s not sure what would’ve happened. He now wants to learn the Heimlich so he too can save someone in an emergency.

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