Jul 25, 2014
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Student Honored For Saving Classmate's Life

"I knew I had to jump into action because it was very serious," said Natalie Phyall, 10.

Natalie Phyall doesn't think of herself as a hero.

But Monday night the Baltimore County Council honored the 4th Grade Villa Cresta Elementary student for her quick action that likely saved the life of a classmate and friend on March 9.

Phyall was at lunch with her class when Ramoni Cuffe began choking. She and her friend had rehearsed a signal for choking weeks before.

And when her friend put her hands to her throat, Natalie said she initially thought her friend "was joking" and then realized her friend was in trouble.

"I knew I had to jump into action because it was very serious," the soft-spoken 10-year-old said. "She looked very scared."

Natalie said she ran around the table and quickly performed the Heimlich Maneuver until part of a chip popped out.

Natalie learned how to perform the life-saving act a year ago from her mother Sabrina Alston, who is a licensed daycare provider.

"She spends a lot of time with me and my daycare children," Alston said. "She just remembered what to do."

Monday night Council members Cathy Bevins and David Marks honored the student with a citation from the County Council and asked her to open up the meeting by leading them in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Natalie said she's a bit surprised by all the reaction.

"I don't feel too much like a hero," Natalie said. "I just knew it was very important."

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