by Melissa Begley
“Mom, just to warn you, there’s vomit in my lunch box,” is not the way you hope to begin a conversation with your fourth grader at the end of the school day. Diane Martone figured her son was pulling her leg or expected to find something strange inside, but certainly not to do a quick unzip and be met with a pile of puke.
Dominic Martone, a fourth grader at Chester M. Stephens Elementary School in Budd Lake shares his story. It was May 22 this school year when he was eating, and then he was choking. It was just that quick. Martone says, “We were just about to leave the cafeteria. The cheese was stuck to the salami and it stuck to the top of my mouth. It felt wrapped around my tonsil. I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t do anything. Ryan saw me holding my neck and he ran over and said, ‘Dominic is choking.’”
Fourth grader Ryan Jones is a classmate of Martone. Jones says, “Everyone was lining up to leave the cafeteria and I saw Dominic trying to finish his salami and cheese. I went over to talk to him and noticed him red in the face and choking. So I screamed, ‘Dominic’s choking!’ but no one heard me. My sister once choked on a grape, and my dad’s a nurse so he taught me how to do the Heimlich in case I ever needed to and I knew what to do so I did it. He spit out the salami and barfed everywhere.”
After hearing the story and getting over the immediate shock, Diane Martone felt immediately grateful. She sprung into action. As a mother of four, she thought she had seen and heard it all, but wanted to be sure that someone else’s son got the recognition he deserved.
She called Kevin Moore, principal of CMS, and explained to him what went on in his cafeteria that day. He too was shocked and amazed that a fourth grade boy would have the presence of mind to act as quickly and calmly as Jones did.
When speaking to Jones’ mom, Heather Jones, she is nonplussed by the whole situation. “We’ve been teaching him the Heimlich at least once or twice a year since he was about four years old,” she said. “He choked on Chinese food. We showed him how to do it afterwards because that’s a scary thing to go through. We wanted him to understand. Then, whenever it comes up, we ask, ‘You remember how to do that, right?’ It just so happened that a few weeks before this happened with Dominic, my seven year old was choking on a grape. My husband turned her around and did the maneuver on her to get rid of the grape.”
Amazing; timing is everything.
Moore loved this story too and wanted to do something special for Jones. On June 11, he put together a little ceremony in Martone’s and Jones’ classroom to commemorate Jones’ bravery. Moore invited Mayor Rob Greenbaum and Sgt. Mark Carlstrom into Ms. Stokley’s classroom. Greenbaum, Carlstrom, and Moore each presented Jones with certificates of achievement, appreciation and commendation. Each spoke briefly about the incredible situation that Jones was able to turn into something worth celebrating. Jones’ family was invited to the presentation as well.
Martone could have called up the school screaming and yelling about this incident, but she knew this was no one’s fault. She wanted to make sure school knew about this awesome thing that went down.
Moore could have said, “Neat,” and hung up the phone. Many would say that May and June are the busiest time of the year, but. Moore called up the mayor and the precinct, explained what happened, and asked for the student to be recognized. Greenbaum and Carlstrom have a million things to do, and could have sent a representative, but making time for this hero was the priority.
Superheroes are everywhere. One just needs to know where to look.