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Veteran teachers deemed heroes by the Bridgeport Exempted Village School District board of education

A PAIR of Bridgeport Exempted Village School District teachers smile after being honored during Wednesday night’s monthly board of education meeting. Kylie Taylor, left, and Donnie Cash were credited with saving the life of a fourth-grade student Tuesday morning. The boy was choking on a cough drop before Cash used the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge it after Taylor had tried. T-L Photo/KIM NORTH

BRIDGEPORT — Two veteran teachers in the Bridgeport Exempted Village School District are deemed heroes after saving the life of an elementary school student on Tuesday morning.

Kylie Taylor, a fourth grade teacher with 14 years of experience, and third grade teacher Donnie Cash, who has 12 years of experience, share a classroom with a small wall dividing it. They were watching over their respective classes when the unthinkable happened.

“It was about 11:50 and out of the blue I hear Kylie scream,” Cash recalled. “I ran over to see what was going on and found the student choking on a cough drop.”

“I had tried the Heimlich maneuver about four or five times and it didn’t work. It was at that point I screamed for Mr. Cash,” Taylor thought back. “At that point I hadn’t called the (school) nurse because he (the student) was choking and red. I was scared. I wanted to try something first and then Mr. Cash hopped over the wall and I called for nurse Gena (Spurlock).”

“After like four thrusts he started coughing. He wasn’t coughing to start, so I gave him one more big thrust and the cough drop came out,” Cash said. “He was hyperventilating at the time. He had tears in his eyes and was very upset, but we got him settled down. After that he was good to go. He wasn’t the same person, but he was alright.

“It was a shock to both of us,” Cash said of himself and Taylor. “The rest of the day wasn’t like it should have been, but it just happened that we were both in the right place at the right time.”

Taylor said Spurlock took the student to the office and called his parents. She then made sure his oxygen levels and overall health were OK.

“I got the call and ran there as fast as I could,” Spurlock said. “By the time I got there, Donnie and Kylie had dislodged the cough drop. They 100 percent saved his life. It wasn’t like one slap on the back. It was the Heimlich over and over. They are truly heroes for their efforts.”

Superintendent of Schools Brent Ripley also commended the pair.

“We do training on situations like this every year hoping we never have to use it, but you went above and beyond what the training taught you,” Ripley said. “You are to be commended.”

Both teachers agreed they’ve never had to deal with a situation like that in their careers.

“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever been around,” Taylor admitted. “I’ve never experienced something like this.”

Cash, the boys’ basketball coach, echoed those thoughts.

“I’ve been teaching for 12 years and I’ve never had something like this occur,” he said. “I had the student last year as a third-grader and Kylie has him this year. He is a great kid. Everyone in the elementary school knows who he is. He brings a smile to your face when you see him.”

“They love him,” Taylor said, adding that if she had been busy doing something else and not seen his face turn red, it could have turned out differently.

“I’m grateful that we work so well as a team. We had the great rapport with him,” Taylor said of the student. “We knew him and knew something was wrong. We’re not trained (medical) professionals, but we did what we had to at the time.”

Cash said the student returned to school Wednesday.

“He came in a little late, but he was there,” Cash said. “He gave me the thumbs up.”

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