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Edina 3rd-grader helps save choking classmate at school picnic

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A third-grader at Edina's Concord Elementary didn't think he'd ever use the Heimlich techniques his dad taught him – but now he is being credited for helping save his classmate's life.

Zach Furman (at left in photo) and his friend, Aiden(at right in photo), went to find their friend, Fletcher Dypwick (in middle in photo), to ask him sit with them to eat their hot dogs and fries at the school's annual picnic on May 22.

“I started to ask Fletcher if he wanted to join us and noticed he was choking,” Zach said, according to the school's news release. “I was scared for him because his face was pale and he was doing the choking sign – covering his neck with both of his hands.”

Zach immediately remembered what his father taught him and started the Heimlich while his friend went to tell a teacher. By the time teachers got to Zach and Fletcher, Fletcher was no longer choking.

“We were able to calm Fletcher down and talk about everything as a class afterwards,” Colin Friden, Zach's teacher, said in the release. "This was an extreme event, but it was an opportunity to talk about the importance of looking out for each other – we are a family.”

“I never thought I was going to use what I had learned,” Zach said, according to the release. “But I am so glad that I could use that knowledge to help someone.”

In 2000, 160 children ages 14 years or younger died from an obstruction of the respiratory tract due to inhaled or ingested foreign bodies. Of those, 41 percent were caused by food items and 59 percent by nonfood objects, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

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