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Socorro ISD teacher hailed as a hero after performing the Heimlich maneuver, saving first grader

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) Fifth grade teacher at Chester E. Jordan Elementary School, Caitlyn Bowen, is being hailed as a hero after performing the Heimlich maneuver on a student last month. 

Bowen is one of the coaches for the school's Destination Imagination program, where students flex their creativity and compete in science challenges. 

On February 5, Bowen was on her way to pick up some of her extracurricular students from another classroom, something she doesn't normally do, when she noticed a first grader struggling. 

Bowen instantly realized he was choking. 

The only other person in the room was a substitute teacher. Bowen didn't think twice and sprang into action. 

"I just ran over to him. I got behind him, and I did the Heimlich maneuver on him. It was about four or five pumps before I heard something hit the table. It was a Cocoa Puff, and it was during breakfast time. And he says it's out. And yeah, it was just a simple little Cocoa Puff," Bowen explained. 

Minutes later, she walked the student to the nurse's office. 

Bowen said the entire ordeal was unexpected. She said it was a case of being at the right place at the right time. 

Four years ago, Bowen was asked if she wanted to join her school's first response team. She underwent CPR training, but never imagined she would put her skills to the test. 

In that moment, Bowen said her instincts kicked in.

"Just like the adrenaline in the moment where you just like, I have to help this child. You know? As teachers, we're put in stressful situations. That's not one that you expect, though," she said. 

Bowen said the response since the incident has been overwhelming. Many of her students now admire her quick thinking and life-saving actions.

"They were just like you're a hero! You saved somebody. It's really sweet because they really do, they were just so excited, and they were like, 'Wow, that's amazing.' They clapped for me, and they cheered for me. And it's been a, it's been a nice experience." 

Bowen's heroic actions were also recognized by the SISD Board of Trustees. She even received a standing ovation. 

She said she has seen much good come out of this scary ordeal. 

Bowen said she doesn't consider herself a hero. She told ABC-7 that all teachers are heroes. 

She is thankful for all of the support she has received. She hopes it encourages other teachers to undergo life-saving training so they, too, can save lives.

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Rosemary Montañez

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