Custodian Luis Hinestroza’s yearly safety training came into play on Monday when a third grader began choking on her food. Hinestroza knew just how to respond and perfectly performed the Heimlich Maneuver on the girl.
"Luis is just such a special person," said Principal Michelle Griffith. "He always goes above and beyond and is loved by every student."
It was lunchtime in the Garfield School cafeteria when the third grader began choking on her food. Yard duties and Hinestroza were notified of the student struggling. Every employee goes through AED (automated external defibrilator) training, but most rarely have to put their training to use.
Hinestroza knew exactly how to respond when the girl was unable to breathe and quickly performed the Heimlich Maneuver. The piece of bread and meat was dislodged from her throat and ejected.
All 300 first, second and third graders remained in their seats as staff was able to keep everything under control. Some students were crying from the upsetting incident, but everyone remained calm.
Though the girl was shaken and crying, she suffered no other injuries. She was taken to the hospital for observation but was soon released.
“What happened yesterday was a wonderful thing and let everyone know what we already knew – that Luis is a great man and great things happen to great people,” said Facilities Director Don Dias. “I am so happy for everyone involved, but especially for the student who was in the arms of an angel.”
This isn’t the first time Hinestroza was a hero.
At last year’s 8th grade promotion ceremony, the students chose Hinestroza as the outstanding staff member to speak at the event.
“He is truly beloved by the entire Garfield School community,” said Christine Costanza from the .
Griffith added that Hinestroza contributes every day, helping with fundraisers, bake sales and any activity that requires assistance. During the holidays, he even provided students with Christmas presents.
"He just has the biggest heart," she said.
Hinestroza will be recognized at the Feb. 8 school board meeting at 750 Bradford Street at 7 p.m. (Correction: not Feb. 15 as previously written.)
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