Student helps friend in a bad situation

Photo by Matt Draper Pictured here during Multicultural Day in Potlotek are Amaya Johnson, Zophia Nicholas, and Cape Breton-Richmond MLA Alana Paon. Nicholas recently came to the aid of Johnson, who choked on a piece of fruit while both were attending East Richmond Education Centre.

POTLOTEK: A local student is receiving praise for her quick thinking in helping keep a fellow student safe.

On March 10, East Richmond Education Centre student Zophia Nicholas helped stop her friend Amaya Johnson from choking in the classroom.

“I was choking on an apple,” explained Johnson. “When I was eating it, I was going to say something and I didn’t get time to chew it and it stuck.”

Nichols noticed her friend’s distress and decided to help out.

“I was poking her and asking her ‘are you choking, are you choking’ and she wasn’t saying anything,” said Nicholas. “So I pulled her up and I went behind her.”

Nicholas used a version of a Heimlich maneuver to help dislodge the piece of apple and Johnson said she ended up swallowing the piece of fruit. Teacher Donna Lameman said Johnson was a little emotional afterwards but was alright in the end.

When Nicholas was younger, she once choked on a piece of food which was dislodged by her grandmother.

“I kind of learned [the Heimlich maneuver] from that and my parents told me how to help myself if I was choking and there was no one else there,” said Nicholas.

Thanks to her resourcefulness, Nicholas received a medal for bravery from the Potlotek First Nations Band. Cape Breton-Richmond MLA Alana Paon said she heard about the incident and complimented Nicholas on her bravery as well.

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Antigonish native Matt Draper has been a photographer, reporter and columnist for The Reporter since 2003.