Janitor saves student from choking during lunch at Harrison Junior Senior HS

Janitor performs Heimlich on Harrison Junior High student during lunch

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Eighth-grader Austin Brown took a bite of hot dog during lunch at school on Wednesday and it got stuck he says.

Moments later, he ran to the nearest adult for help.

“I have esophagus problems,” Brown said. “Not really problems, but food gets stuck in my esophagus.”

Brown says usually he can drink water or something else to help the food go down but not this time.

“When I did, it built up in my throat,” he explained, "and it was really hard to breathe, and I kept trying to swallow, and it wouldn’t go down.”

Lucky for Brown, long-time Harrison Junior High School Janitor Larry Black was nearby. He says he was doing his normal duties when Brown approached him.

“He was looking at me like he couldn’t speak," Black said. “I thought he was just kidding around with me or something.”

Black says he quickly realized it wasn’t a joke.

“Then the guy behind me that’s working with me, he says, ‘I think he needs the Heimlich,’" Black explained.

Black says that’s when he jumped into action.

The relief, for Brown, was immediate.

“I am like, ‘I can breathe again,’" Brown said. "I was trying to say thank you, but I can’t because it was hurting.”

The incident was a first for Black in his 24 years as head janitor at the school, he says, but it’s something he was trained to handle.

“I just naturally turned around and did the Heimlich," Black said. "I said, he’s not getting any air. He couldn’t speak a word. It makes me feel good I got to help somebody. I always was raised to by my parents, to help other people.”

Brown says he’s extremely thankful Black was around.

Brown’s parents, Michael and Jennifer Brown, say after the school contacted them about what happened, they initially didn’t know when to think.

Now they say they’re also grateful Black was there when he was.

Brown also says if you ever find yourself in the situation he was in, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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