Turns out kids do listen to their parents. Sometimes, anyway.
Nine-year-old Zach Furman certainly did, and today one of his classmates at Concord Elementary in Edina is probably alive because of it.
At a recent school picnic, Zach, a third-grader, saved classmate Fletcher Dypwick from choking by using the Heimlich maneuver. His dad taught him and his brother the lifesaving skill about two weeks before the incident.
“I started to ask Fletcher if he wanted to join us and noticed he was choking,” Zach said. “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’s friend, Aiden Roberts, rushed to get a teacher while Zach performed the Heimlich. After three firm thrusts to his diaphragm, the food — a French fry, Fletcher says — became dislodged.
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, including the boy’s teacher, Colin Friden.
“We were able to calm Fletcher down and talk about everything as a class afterwards,” Friden said. “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.”
After a few tears and a question about death, Fletcher, 9, quickly bounced back from the ordeal, said his mother Nikki Dypwick.
“This situation went from scary to cool in about eight seconds,” she said. “We are very lucky that things turned out the way they did.”
She said she was happy to learn that Aiden and Zach, who began attending Edina schools this year, were looking for Fletcher to ask him to sit with them at the picnic that day.
“I love the fact that he has friends like these,” she said.
Also working in Fletcher’s favor was the decision by Zach’s dad, Matt Furman, to teach his sons the Heimlich maneuver.
“I never thought I was going to use what I had learned,” Zach said. “But I am so glad that I could use that knowledge to help someone.”
Since the ordeal, the three boys have received well-wishes from friends, family, parents, teachers and Concord’s principal. Many have called Zach a hero. Nikki Dypwick immediately invited the boys over for a play date and to formally thank them for saving Fletcher.
Furman said Zach, who recently selected Dwight D. Eisenhower as one of the people he most admires, has taken the praise in stride.
“Zach is the picture of nonplused,” Furman said. “He went back and finished his lunch right after performing the maneuver.”