MILLIS (CBS) – It was an ordinary math class at Millis High School, when Sean White heard his friend coughing behind him in the next row.
“You turn around and you see the face of someone who doesn’t know what’s happening to them. They are just in complete shock,” Sean recalled of the incident last year.
Sean knew exactly what was happening. His friend was choking.
“It could be a life or death situation if you don’t react in that split second,” he said. “I was able to get behind him and wrap my arms around him,” he said, demonstrating the Heimlich maneuver.
Five quick thrusts and a pen cap came flying out of his friend’s mouth and onto the floor.
“My friend afterwards, once he caught his breath, he was very thankful,” Sean remembered.
Sean learned the Heimlich as part of a CPR class that is required for every sophomore at Millis High School.
“I think it’s very important,” Principal Bob Mahoney told WBZ.
Most states agree with Mahoney, making CPR a requirement for graduation, but Massachusetts is one of only a handful of states that does not.
“The more people that learn CPR, the better,” said Allyson Perron Drag of the American Heart Association.
The organization estimates as many as 300 lives could be saved in Massachusetts every year if every student learned CPR.
“Why we really focus on kids in school is kids actually react better in tough situations. They will react calmer and quicker than an adult,” Perron Drag said.
There is currently a bill on Beacon Hill that would mandate the training in all Massachusetts school districts. Sean hopes that it passes.
“I think it’s something everyone should learn. It can be essentially life or death for someone else.”