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A New Jersey teacher saved the life of a third grader who was choking on a water bottle cap

She recently took a refresher course in first aid!

By BOTWC Staff

JaNiece Jenkins
JaNiece Jenkins has been a teacher for 14 years, working at the East Orange Community Charter School

JaNiece Jenkins has been a teacher for 14 years, working at the East Orange Community Charter School for the last five years. The veteran educator also doubles as a cheerleading coach at Montclair High School, recently taking a refresher course at the school in first aid. 

Recently, Jenkins’ third graders at East Orange were settling back into the classroom from their gym class when one of her students began choking on a water bottle cap. The student was apparently trying to open the bottle with his teeth as he squeezed on it when the cap got lodged in his throat. Once he realized he couldn’t get it out, he ran directly to Jenkins. 

Utilizing her basic first aid and CPR training, Jenkins was able to perform the Heimlich maneuver on the child, dislodging the cap and potentially saving his life. 

“I didn’t really think, I just acted. I saw he needed help and I just sprung into action to help him. He couldn’t breathe, his face was pretty pale and he had a look of desperation on his face…He ran to me and couldn’t talk so he was pointing to his throat. Then I just went to deliver the Heimlich maneuver and luckily it popped out and he was OK,” Jenkins recalled. 


Principal Tracey Watkins said she is grateful for Jenkins’ quick action, a reminder that everyone should be trained in some form of first aid help. 

“This situation could have had a tragic outcome. As a school community, we are so grateful to and proud of Ms. Jenkins. Instead of freezing and panicking, she recalled what she learned in CPR training and used those skills to save a life,” said Watkins. 

The entire ordeal was caught on camera, Jenkins maintaining her cool, the teacher saying the gravity of the situation really didn’t hit her until afterwards. That’s when she realized that all of her training paid off. 

“Once he was safe, I got him to the nurse and I felt 100% better. Then my emotions got the best of me in hindsight thinking of what could’ve happened. Thank God, I was able to do what I did. This is the first time I ever did the (Heimlich maneuver) for real. I’m glad it worked,” she said.

Check out the full rescue below!


Thank you Ms. Jenkins for all you do to keep your students safe. 

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