Seventh-grader David Kissane, front, was honored by the Steamboat Springs fire and police departments at a middle school assembly Friday afternoon. Kissane's quick thinking saved his friend Cole Sittig, back. Kissane used the Heimlich maneuver when Sittig started choking during a school lunch in November.

Photo by John F. Russell

Seventh-grader David Kissane, front, was honored by the Steamboat Springs fire and police departments at a middle school assembly Friday afternoon. Kissane's quick thinking saved his friend Cole Sittig, back. Kissane used the Heimlich maneuver when Sittig started choking during a school lunch in November.

Local hero recognized

Seventh-grader honored for giving Heimlich to choking student

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Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Bob Struble, right, presnets seventh-grader David Kissane, middle, a plaque at a middle school assembly Friday afternoon. Kissane's quick thinking saved his friend Cole Sittig, left. Kissane used the Heimlich maneuver when Sittig started choking during a school lunch.

— During an otherwise routine school lunch Nov. 11, seventh-grader Cole Sittig started to panic. He reached up to his throat and signaled that he was choking, as his chest tightened and friends tried to help him by hitting his back.

David Kissane, a fellow seventh-grader at Steamboat Springs Middle School, saw the commotion and the look on Cole's face.

"I saw that people were giving him water and stuff and trying to help him but didn't really know what to do," David said. "I was eating at another table and I saw Cole choking, and I gave him the Heimlich."

At an assembly at the middle school Friday, Erin and Jim Kissane looked on as their son was honored for keeping Cole from choking. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Bob Struble and Steamboat Springs Police Capt. Joel Rae awarded David a plaque for his quick reaction in an emergency situation.

"The fact that he saw, reacted and did the right thing is cool - but you are talking to his mother," Erin Kissane said.

Erin Kissane, who was at the school the day of the incident, said she found out about it when Cole rushed over to her and said, "David saved my life." Kissane said she wasn't aware her son knew how to do the Heimlich maneuver in an emergency, and she was proud of his quick reaction.

David "turned around and looked at Cole's face, and he saw the panic and realized he was choking," she said. "He ran over and put his arms under Coles' and, boom, out pops a chicken nugget."

When the school nurse asked Cole how he'd like to show his gratitude to David, Cole went for as much public exposure as possible.

He and David have gone to school together since preschool and are in the same church youth group.

"This was kind of my way of saying thank you," Cole said. "I said I wanted him to be publicly recognized and have him have a plaque that says he saved a life."

On Friday, Cole posed with David and his plaque in the hallway of the middle school, taking a break from an end-of-semester pep rally to thank David for getting him out of a scary situation. David said he plans to hold onto the plaque for years to come.

"I'll put it in my room, and if I ever have kids, I'll show it to them," he said.

- To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204 or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com

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