The first day of school for Plantation Park Elementary School’s kindergarten teacher Lindsay Burns was a day she says she’ll never forget.
“It was quiet time, and I was feeling a little hungry,” the Bossier City teacher said, as the students were engaged in their own activities in the early afternoon of Aug. 14. “I had been a little busy, and I hadn’t had a chance to eat, and I got a piece of fruit out of my refrigerator.”
She took a bite of that fruit and that’s when the unthinkable happened.
“When I took a bite, it immediately just slipped down into my throat,” she described.
Lindsay said she was able to breathe momentarily, but that’s when things got progressively worse.
“I thought, well, I’ll just wash it down with some water,” the 18-year-veteran teacher said. “I took a sip, and that’s when things got really bad, and it just escalated from there when it lodged in and I couldn’t breathe.”
She said she didn’t want to panic in front of her students, so she ran out of the classroom. That’s when she ran into Deputy Slopak.
“I was here at the right time and the right place,” said Slopak, who was only on his second full day serving as a School Resource Officer at Plantation Park Elementary School.
Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Deputy and SRO Chris Slopak was making his rounds when he saw Mrs. Burns struggling to get air. He says that’s when his training kicked in.
“We met up roughly about right here [pointing to the middle of the hallway], I turned around, found her diaphragm, and placed my fist in the right area and just started applying pressure,” he said.
“I was continually asking her, ‘Can you breathe’?” he said. “She wasn’t breathing. About three or four more times, we were able to get it dislodged, and she went back to work. She’s a trooper.”
Mrs. Burns calls Chris her guardian angel.
“I feel thankful that he was there for me…he saved my life,” she said. “I don’t think I would have lasted much longer had he not been standing there.”
Deputy Slopak says it’s part of his duty to protect and serve. That even involves knowing how to administer the Heimlich Maneuver.
“When we put our uniforms on every day, we’re not thinking about that type of scenario, though we are trained for those situations,” Deputy Slopak said. “We’re more on a high alert, always trying to be aware of our surroundings. This is just part of the job that comes with it, and I’m just glad I was here when I was.”