AT Student Saves Assistant AT

April 3, 2014 by NATA Admin

Senior athletic training student Valentina Glavan took the #NATM2014 slogan “We’ve Got Your Back” literally on March 20, when Montclair State University Assistant Athletic Trainer Joe Savoia, MS, ATC, started to choke on his sandwich.  At first everyone thought he was joking around or trying to create an emergency situation, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Glavan immediately stepped in and gave Joe five back blows with no results; he was still choking and getting very anxious. With no hesitation she then applied abdominal thrusts. On the fourth attempt a clump of food shot out of Joe’s mouth.
“The morning of the incident with Joe, we watched the video about Steve Papa, ATC, LAT, who was my first preceptor for Clinic Education 1, saving a student’s  life by doing CPR and using the AED,” Val said. “Three hours later, Joe started choking and I was at the right place at the right time. I knew what the procedure for a conscious choking victim and I felt like I didn't stop to think. I heard him gasp as the food settled back in his throat; it’s a sound I'll never forget. Once I heard that sound and saw him turn purple, it was just instinctive: I knew what had to be done.”
Val said her experience taught her that anything can happen at any moment. “Sometimes you think to yourself, ‘it can't happen to me’ - but it can, and it did,” she said.

Needless to say, Joe was extremely relieved and thankful (as was the entire AT clinical staff). Val was not quite sure how to react. Val and Joe continued to work together to treat MSU athletes Thursday afternoon. Thankfully, in true Joe fashion, there were lots of laughs.  But the sense of something special happening hung in the air all day.  Both Joe and Val processed the event in different ways, but both knew they would be bonded together forever.

Blog post written by John Davis, MS, ATC, and Marsha Grant-Ford, PhD, ATC

Photo: Savoia and AT student Valentina Glavan

posted by Jaimie Siegle, editorial specialist  (