|By Jon Watje
A Union City Teacher Aide was recognized for saving the life of a student.
Fifth grade Teacher Aide Jennifer Surovic bolted into action to help Tiffany Rodgers, a special needs student who choked on a piece of candy during class on March 23.
“We about to start our math lesson and she had the candy out and I told her she could have a piece,” Surovic said. “I heard hear coughing and I asked her if she could breath and she shook her head, ‘No.’
Surovic rushed to Rodgers and performed the hiemlich maneuver, dislodging the candy from Rodgers’ throat.
“When I was 17 years-old, I took some CPR training but never took any training after that,” Surovic said. “I just did what I learned.”
After helping Rodgers in the classroom, Surovic said she rushed to get more help.
“I just ran out of the classroom and screamed for help,” she said.
Officers from the Union City Police Department, members of the Union City Fire Department and Mercy Emergency Medical Services responded to the incident.
“Everyone involved was very happy to see that the student was once again breathing and recovering quickly after a serious and life-threatening situation,” said Union City Police Chief Richard Stephens.
Stephens said he was impressed with how Surovic handled the scary situation.
“Through my 29 years as an emergency responder, both in the role of Nationally Registered Paramedic and as a State Certified Police Officer, I can attest that these situations frequently do not end well.”
At the Union City Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, April 13 Chief Stephens presented Surovic with a Certificate of Commendation for saving Rodgers’ life.
“Without a doubt, this situation could have ended much differently,” he said. “Without the quick response and life saving actions by Mrs. Surovik, it is very likely that the student would not have survived this deadly situation.”
Surovik said she appreciated the recognition, but believed she did what anyone else would do.
“I think I was just doing my job,” she said.
Surovik has worked as a fifth grade teachers aide at Union City for three years.
“My sister-in-law, Shanna Loughridge, is the fifth grade teacher and she told me about the possibility of the school district hiring so I took a look at it,” she said. “I love it and I love being with not only the kids in my class, but all the kids in the school.”
Surovik, a 2006 graduate of Union City High School, said she has known Tiffany Rodgers, 11, since she was an infant.
“I have known her family for a long time,” she said. “She was right back in the classroom the next day after the incident and she is going great.”