Students honored for saving asthmatic teacher's life after classmate's cologne causes attack

GARY, Ind. (WLS) -- A group of seventh graders in Gary, Indiana, were honored for their efforts in the classroom for helping to save the life of their teacher.

M'onique Hutchinson has been teaching for years. Yet, this is her first year as an English/language arts teacher at Aspire Charter Academy in Gary. At the beginning of the school year, she taught her seventh grade class a lesson they thankfully never forgot.

"We had a plan on what to do, I would recommend this to any school," said Hutchinson.

Hutchinson taught her students how to handle an asthma attack. The 50-year-old teacher has suffered from severe asthma her whole life. She is allergic to many scents, including cologne. A few weeks ago, Sydn'e Duncan noticed one of her classmates was wearing some. The 12-year-old immediately got the student out of class, wiped down his chair and turned her attention to Hutchinson.

"I didn't think she was OK, she didn't look well, plus we knew as she sat down that wasn't good," said Sydn'e.

"Sydn'e said, 'Ms. H, are you OK?' 'I'm OK.' She said, 'No, you are not.' I couldn't breathe. My chest became tight and everything," Hutchinson said.

It was too late for Hutchinson's inhalers to work. She was experiencing a full-blown asthma attack. Then Jalen Tinco sprang into action.

"I just ran down the hallway, across, went to get Ms. Bayor and Ms. Beal," Jalen said.

Teachers and other school staff called 911 and quickly cleared the hallways and the parking lot for an ambulance. The timing could not have been worse. It was during dismissal.

Hutchinson says she wouldn't alive today if it wasn't for her brave students. On Tuesday, Indiana Congressman Peter Visclosky honored Sydn'e and Jalen with a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol.

"For them to do what they did for me, I owe them my life, and I'm thankful for that," Hutchinson said.

"I took it very seriously, even though our class has our ups and downs, we still care," Sydn'e said.

The students say they were just following the plan their teacher taught them about asthma attacks at the beginning of the year. Hutchinson recommends all schools have a plan in place if someone in the classroom, teacher or student, is asthmatic.
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