Deputy saves teacher's life

Deputy saves teacher's life
Bossier sheriff's Deputy Chris Slopak and Plantation Park Elementary kindergarten teacher Lindsay Burns (Source: Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office)
Bossier sheriff's Deputy Chris Slopak and Plantation Park Elementary kindergarten teacher Lindsay Burns (Source: Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office)

BOSSIER PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE - Kindergarten teacher Lindsay Burns says she'll never forget the first day of this school year.

"It was quiet time, and I was feeling a little hungry." the Bossier City teacher recalled.

Her students at Plantation Park Elementary were involved in their own activities early Tuesday afternoon.

"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."

When Burns took a bite, "... it immediately just slipped down into my throat."

She was able to breathe momentarily then her situation got progressively worse.

"I thought, well, I'll just wash it down with some water. 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."

Burns, who has been teaching for 18 years, said  she didn't want to panic in front of her students.

So she ran out of the classroom ...

And into Bossier sheriff's Deputy Chris Slopak, who was working his second full day as a school resource officer at Plantation Park Elementary.

"I was here at the right time and the right place," Slopak said.

He was making his rounds when he saw Burns struggling to get air.

That's when his training kicked in.

"We met up roughly about right here," Slopak recalled, pointing to the middle of a hallway at the school.

"I turned around, found her diaphragm and placed my fist in the right area and just started applying pressure.

"I was continually asking her, 'Can you breathe?' She wasn't breathing."

The food became dislodged after about three or four more tries.

"She's a trooper," Slopak said of Burns, who went back to work after the encounter recorded by a school surveillance camera.

Now she calls him her guardian angel.

"I feel thankful that he was there for me. He saved my life," Burns said. "I don't think I would have lasted much longer had he not been standing there."

Slopak said it's part of his duty to protect and serve. And that 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," Slopak said. "We're more on a high alert, always trying to be aware of our surroundings."

He concluded: "I'm just glad I was here when I was."