WILLISTON, N.D. — Normally, Anthony Vandal doesn’t spend much time in the lunchroom at Bakken Elementary. Last week, however, a chance trip through the lunchroom ended up saving a life.

Vandal, an instructional coach Bakken Elementary in Williston, was heading to the main office on Wednesday, March 13, and decided to make his way through the lunchroom so he could chat with some students on the way.

After a short conversation with a student, Vandal noticed another student sort of hunched over at a lunch table.

“I really thought he was just coughing or throwing up,” Vandal said.

That wasn’t the case — the student was choking and couldn’t breathe. Vandal sprung into action.

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He told the student what he was going to do and started the Heimlich maneuver. After what seemed like an eternity to Vandal, but he said couldn’t have been more than a few seconds, a meatball came flying out of the student’s throat.

“It was just like out of the movies,” Vandal recalled.

The student was very appreciative and is doing well. It took some time and some reflection for Vandal to understand what had happened.

“I realized, yes, I actually did save that kid’s life,” he said.