NMU nursing student saves choking person’s life

Talk about applying what you’ve learned to a real-life crisis situation. That’s what happened when first-year Northern Michigan University nursing student Tess Kostelec saved the life of a fellow student.

Kostelec performed the Heimlich Maneuver on a student choking in the Northern Light Dining Hall on campus recently. She was eating dinner with friends when she heard another student looking for help.

“I walked over and asked the victim if she could breathe and she nodded no,” she said in a release from the university. “I told her I was going to get behind her and do the Heimlich. I gave her three blows and some of the burger came up. She and her friends thanked me profusely afterward.

“I wandered back to my table and had a crazy adrenaline rush. It’s the first time I’ve saved someone. For a quick second, I was nervous I wouldn’t do it right, but then I realized trying is better than no one helping her at all. My nursing instructors are amazing and always emphasize that whatever you’re thinking of doing, you’re doing it out of a good place and you don’t willingly want to harm someone. So I just acted in the moment the best way I knew how.”

Impressed by her quick action, Shane Hawkins, operations manager at Northern Lights, talked to Kostelec about the after-effects of a high-stress situation.

“I recommended that she do something unrelated to class or work,” Hawkins said in the release. “Perhaps read a book that’s not associated with school, listen to music or do a physical workout because that energy is so toxic.

“Many people seek comfort in sweets, cigarettes or alcohol after a stressful moment, but those aren’t helpful. I also talked with the victim and her friends about the chair method (thrusting your abdomen against the back of a chair) in case they’re around someone choking in the future.”

An NMU lacrosse recruit, Kostelec, a native of Columbia, Maryland, has been considering a career in the emergency room. We think she has what it takes. Congratulations to her and all those who have taught her along the way.