From left to right, Miller Place School District Unit member Dan Cuoco, Syen McDaniel, and Andrew Muller Primary School Principal Laura Gewurz pose at a recent district Board of Education meeting at which Cuoco was honored for saving McDaniel’s life.

MILLER PLACE — For Miller Place School District Custodian Dan Cuoco, a recent student lunch break at Andrew Muller Primary School began like most others. 

After he finished performing his duties, he took a quick moment to visit with the children before proceeding with the rest of the day. 

On that day, Cuoco noticed that one of the seventh graders was choking. 

“I saw [the child]making faces and at first I thought he was trying to make me laugh,” said Cuoco. “Then, he started pointing to his throat as tears were streaming down his face.”

Cuoco immediately went to the side of the table where the student was seated and performed the Heimlich Maneuver on him. 

“It happened so quickly that I don’t think anyone knew what was going on until they saw me behind him,” said Cuoco.

Cuoco was already familiar with the Heimlich Maneuver based on his prior training as a medical assistant. He built on that knowledge when he took a voluntary course in the fall, thinking there might be some updated information. 

“Luckily, that was all still fresh in my mind,” said Cuoco. 

For his heroic deed, Cuoco was presented with a certificate at a recent Miller Place Board of Education meeting. 

“I was shocked when I found out I was going to be recognized,” said Cuoco. “I just really hope I never have to do it again. It was very scary.” 

Cuoco believes that everyone should be properly trained to perform Heimlich Maneuver because he said performing it without training could cause injury. 

He added that he thinks people should want to be in the position to help a person in need, especially if it’s a child.

“I have a son and if he were choking in the middle of the cafeteria, I would hope that someone was there who could step in to help,” said Cuoco. 

— Wendi Bowie


About Author

Wendi Bowie is an award-winning journalist who has focused the majority of her career on covering Long Island news. Her efforts have earned her the Press Club of Long Island Media Award for Public Affairs and the Long Island Coalition for Fair Broadcasting Folio Award. Wendi was drawn to her current position as Communications Specialist for CSEA’s Long Island Region because it speaks to her strong desire to champion the rights of the common man and woman.

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