TAUNTON, Mass. — He says he got a B in CPR class, but a Taunton teen put in an A+ performance when it counted by saving his mom's life.
"If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here right now," said Holly Ussow.
Last week, 16-year-old Evan Ussow got the rare chance to pay his mom back when she began choking on a piece of cucumber.
"I was scared, I couldn't yell out for help," Holly recalled.
As a health care worker, the Taunton mother knew pressing her diaphragm to a chair could dislodge the trapped food, but it didn't work.
"At that time, my daughter came out and she was screaming and scare and didn't know what to do. I couldn't talk so I was pointing to her brother's room," said Holly.
Her intent was to have Evan call 911, but what she didn't know is that one year earlier, Evan took a CPR class at his high school, Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School, where he learned, among other things, the Heimlich Maneuver.
"Evan came out, out of nowhere, not panicked, came behind me, and he's a lot smaller than me, and he gave me the Heimlich," said Holly.
It took Evan three tries to get the cucumber piece out.
"I knew there was a good chance I could help her," Evan said.
His teacher says the key thing, and the surprising thing is Evan never panicked.
"Evan was fantastic. He stayed calmed. He went down, took care of his mother and saved her life basically," said Pia Fortin, Evan's health teacher.
Last year, state lawmakers considered a bill to require high school students to demonstrate a general knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation - or CPR - as a prerequisite for graduation, with the coursework based on offerings from the American Red Cross or American Heart Association.
That bill has now been refiled.
Fortin says CPR courses include how to save someone from choking, "If something horrible happens and they die, you're sitting there thinking, what should I have done and you live with that every day."
For Holly, she is grateful for her brave son.
"I owe him my life. So grateful for him," she said.
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