‘Be Epic’

Last week I interviewed two students – a senior and a junior – at David Crockett High School in Washington County, Tennessee. This article was my favorite one from last week . . . Austin’s words are still ringing in my head “be epic.” This is an incredible story, one I’m glad I had the opportunity to share.

Crockett hero quickly steps in to save fellow student’s life

Published in Herald & Tribune March 11, 2014 issue

David Crockett High School senior Kenny Cutshall’s quick thinking saved the life of a fellow student recently.

“It was just natural,” he said about giving Austin Oxendine, a junior, the Heimlich maneuver in the school’s cafeteria on Feb. 27.

Scan0001Cutshall said he has never had Heimlich training and that was the first time he had ever done it on someone.

Oxendine was sitting with a couple of friends by the water fountain in the cafeteria eating a chicken sandwich that day.

“It was actually pretty good,” he said. “It’s normally pretty hard to swallow.”

Oxendine said since he was starving, he wolfed down the sandwich – something he is known to do. Unfortunately, this time he began choking.

“I was choking for a good minute before anyone realized what was going on,” he said.

A teacher, who was in the cafeteria, walked over to Oxendine and asked him if he was okay. As that teacher was making his way over, Cutshall became aware of the situation.

Things got a little frantic after that. Cutshall saw that Oxendine’s face started going red as he leaned over the table. Cutshall stood up and asked if Oxendine was all right.

He noticed then that Oxendine’s face was becoming more red and bluish.

“He stood up and started to pass out,” Cutshall said, adding that when Oxendine started to fall back down, Cutshall grabbed a hold of him.

He proceeded to do the Heimlich – a lifesaving maneuver specifically designed to help choking victims – and gave Oxendine two pumps.

Oxendine began coughing, which led Cutshall to ask if he wanted a drink of his Gatorade. Oxendine declined.

Principal Andrew Hare said the incident all happened within a minute and very few people knew what had occured because of the way Cutshall responded.

“It seemed like forever,” Cutshall said to Oxendine. “When you were choking, it was scary.”

Oxendine said his throat gave him a little bit of trouble over the next few days, but overall, he recovered quickly.

“I was perfectly fine,” he said. “I think my mother made a fuss more than I did.”

That experience taught Cutshall not to hesitate when a moment of help arises.

“It feels pretty good,” he said of helping another person.

Oxendine was very glad Cutshall stepped in and helped him.

“I’m glad I’m standing here,” he said. “Usually you don’t see something like that happen.

“No one wants to go and step out. Kenny didn’t care. He just wanted to help, and I’m thankful for it.”

Assistant Principal Peggy Wright said EPIC behavior is discussed a great deal at David Crockett High School. She said they talk about being responsible and having integrity and helping your fellow man.

“Kenny saved a kid’s life,” Wright said. “By the time we would have gotten a nurse, he could have been laying their unconscious.”

Hare said he is very appreciative, proud and thankful that Cutshall helped another student  in the cafeteria that day.

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