Teacher saves student choking on almond, says ‘mama bear’ instinct kicked in

Samantha Wais and her student, Bryson. (Credit: Holmen School District)

A Wisconsin teacher is crediting her maternal instincts for saving one of her students when he started choking during snack time.

The third-grade teacher at Viking Elementary School in Holmen said the scary situation happened on Sept. 9, days after the school year just started. 

Samantha Wais said the school had just wrapped up a welcome-back assembly and her students were enjoying a snack when Bryson, the student, started choking on an almond. 

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"One of my students started walking towards me, and as he got closer, he was making gurgling noises, and then I noticed when he looked up at me, his face was very panicked," she said to FOX Television Stations. 

"At that point, I jumped into action performing the Heimlich maneuver until the almond he was choking on was no longer blocking his airway," she continued. 

Wais said her educational assistant grabbed water for Bryson as nurses and other adults were being called. She said Bryson is now okay. 

"Honestly, what made me react so quickly was my mama bear instinct," she added. "When I noticed that the student was panicking, and I asked him if he was choking, and he said yes, it was just instinct from there."

The teacher added that she worries a little about snack time because these incidents can occur. 

"I am trying to remind myself that this type of thing doesn’t usually happen," she continued. "I’m also just happy that everything worked out the way it did that day."

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"I see my students as my own, and I wouldn’t want anything to happen to them, and the response of other staff in the building during this terrible event shows just how much everyone in our building cares about our students," she said. 

"We are proud of how Ms. Wais jumped into action without hesitation to care for the student," District Administrator Dr. Kris Mueller said in a statement. "This exemplifies the natural caring instinct and skills our staff have to ensure our students are safe."

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one child every five days dies in the U.S. from choking on food items. 

The Mayo Clinic offers various methods to help a child that’s choking including the Heimlich maneuver.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.