Padua Franciscan High School cafeteria worker saves choking student's life

Megan Kulikowski successfully performed Heimlich maneuver on student choking on bottle cap
Posted at 7:02 AM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-12 07:02:22-04

PARMA, Ohio — We've all heard the phrases — "not all heroes wear capes" and "being in the right place at the right time."

They're ringing even more true for a local cafeteria worker.

She is being praised for her swift action after she saved a choking student's life at Padua Franciscan High School.


North Royalton area mom of two Megan Kulikowski takes pride in her job as a cafeteria worker. Whether it's prepping Padua Franciscan High School's famous chocolate chip cookies in the back kitchen or waiting on lines of students during study hall and the afternoon lunch periods.

"You really do grow a bond with them, and you know them personally-- and you just want to make sure they’re all taken care of," said Kulikowski.

"Taken care of" has been given a whole new meaning.

Back on September 1, Kulikowski was stopped in her tracks in the middle of the cafeteria.


“I was at the register ringing, and I had students coming up and a girl came up to the side… and kinda surprised to see her there," said Kulikowski.

Kulikowski says something was seriously off as she watched the teenage girl's face become more and more flushed while she gasped for breath.

“I could hear her mumble 'help', but you could tell it was struggled," Kulikowski said. "I yelled for help… I threw my arms around her!"

Some students watched from nearby tables as Kulikowski ditched the checkout line and performed the Heimlich maneuver on the Padua student.

“Honestly I didn’t even have time to think of what it could’ve been, I just knew we had to help her and get whatever it was out, and I was totally caught by surprise when I looked at the ground and it was a bottle cap from a water bottle."

Kulikowski successfully dislodged the bottle cap from the girl's airway, which she apparently had been chewing on.

Like any good mom, she then grabbed some water for her and helped get her to the school nurse.

“She said thank you. She wanted none of the attention. She just wanted to go back to class," Kulikowski said.

The family of the child says they feel eternally grateful to the cafeteria staff.

Kulikowski says she's a bit caught off guard by the newfound recognition and praise.

At the end of the day, she says it's what any of her fellow cafeteria moms would do.

“I’m taking it all in," Kulikowski said. "I am greatly appreciative, but again I don’t feel like I did anything else that these other women wouldn’t have done. We all care about these kids so much.”


Four of the cafeteria staff either have children in attendance or have kids or grandchildren who have graduated from Padua.

Kulikowski says she hopes everyone will consider learning the Heimlich maneuver.

The cafeteria workers do train each year, and she says that training was instrumental and could clearly save more lives in the future.