'Incredibly proud': 11-year-old saves classmate choking on chicken nugget

Eleven year old Colby Penston saved his friend's life when he performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on hi

Colby, with his dad Colin. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The parents of an 11-year-old boy who saved the life of a schoolmate with the Heimlich manoeuvre say they are "incredibly proud".

Colby Penston, from Felixstowe, rushed to the aid of a fellow student who began to choke on a chicken nugget at school.

Colby learned to perform the manoeuvre while on a lifeguard training course at Felixstowe leisure centre.

Eleven year old Colby Penston saved his friend's life when he performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on hi

Colby learnt how to perform the manoeuvre while on a lifeguard training course at Felixstowe leisure centre. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Colby's mum, Abby, said: “We’re very proud of him, he’s such a sweet boy, being kind is part of his personality, so whilst it doesn't surprise me that he’s done something like that I was shocked that he knew how to do it. 

“When he came home from school and said he’d done the Heimlich manoeuvre I was like how on earth did you learn to do that!

“I’m in a mums WhatsApp group and it lit up in the evening. I think all the children had gone home and told their parents about it. 

“The story that Colby tells is that the boy was sat next to him and had swallowed a chicken nugget and started to choke on it and was pointing to his throat and they could see that the nugget had stuck. 

Eleven year old Colby Penston saved his friend's life when he performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on hi

Colby, with his dad Colin. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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“So Colby told his friend to go and get a dinner lady and at that point he stood up and I guess did the Heimlich manoeuvre on him, at which point he coughed up or spat out the chicken nugget."

Colby learnt how to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre while on a rookie lifeguard course at Felixstowe Leisure centre around four years ago.

His teacher from the time, Louise Eaton, said: "Colby learnt to swim in my swimming lessons and then continued on to our Rookie Lifeguard awards, we cover various lifesaving skills this includes dealing with choking and CPR. 

"I am so proud of Colby and the action he took in this situation and glad he could put into practice what he had learnt during the rookie lessons."

Mum, Abby added: “When Colby did the lifeguarding course at the leisure centre, he did it because he enjoyed his swimming, he never thought for one moment that those skills would get put in to practice. 

“It must’ve been about four years ago that he did the course, he’s retained that information for all that time, that’s quite special. 

“For me, it really shows that there should be more emphasis on teaching these children these kinds of things.

“It’s quite special when your child does something like that, both me and his dad are incredibly proud of him."

Eleven year old Colby Penston saved his friend's life when he performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on hi

Colby undertook the course at Felixstowe leisure centre around four years ago. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

What to do if someone is choking?

According to the NHS website, the Heimlich manoeuvre (also known as abdominal thrusts) should only be used when someone is choking severely, and should not be performed on babies under one years old and pregnant women.

The manoeuvre should be used along with back blows. The NHS website lists the following steps to take if you find someone who is choking:

Back blows

Stand behind them and slightly to one side. Support their chest with one hand. Lean them forward so the object blocking their airway will come out of their mouth, rather than moving further down.

Give up to five sharp blows between their shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. The heel is between the palm of your hand and your wrist.

Check if the blockage has cleared.

If not, give up to five abdominal thrusts.

Abdominal thrust

To carry out an abdominal thrust:

Stand behind the person who's choking.

Place your arms around their waist and bend them forward.

Clench one fist and place it right above their belly button.

Put the other hand on top of your fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards.

Repeat this movement up to five times.

If the person's airway is still blocked after trying back blows and abdominal thrusts, get help immediately:

Call 999 and ask for an ambulance. Tell the 999 operator the person is choking.

Continue with the cycles of five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until help arrives.

If they lose consciousness and are not breathing, you should begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with chest compressions.