SAN TAN VALLEY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Teaching kids and saving lives. A San Tan Valley principal is being credited for her quick thinking when one of her students' grandparents started choking.

It was a start to a new school year Principal Laura Ridge will never forget.

During 7th grade orientation night at Combs Middle School, a student's grandmother was grabbing a snack in the cafeteria when she started to choke.

[WATCH: A San Tan Valley school principal is being credited with saving a choking victim]

Surveillance cameras were watching as Ridge noticed the woman standing in a corner, unable to breathe or talk. Ridge asked her if she needed help.

"She had a plate of food and she just kind of motioned 'yes' and then I literally screamed for help," said Ridge. 

But when no one else came forward, Ridge started doing the Heimlich maneuver.

“I actually choked at work about two years ago, and someone had done it on me at work. And so I figured 'I’ll just do what the person did to me,’” said Ridge. “It was better than the alternative of letting her just stand there and choke."

It worked, and the woman could breathe again.

“She kind of whispered 'I’m fine,' and then I stopped, and then she turned around and we looked at each other, and then we just embraced,” said Ridge.

That grandmother, Jane Branch, says, “I sampled one of the garlic bread pieces that they had. Unfortunately, it got stuck in my throat."

She says she feels comforted sending her granddaughter to school under the watchful eye of her own personal hero.

“I couldn't breathe with it there. It was really scary. So I was so grateful to her. So, so grateful,” said Branch. “She's a sweet person and I appreciate what she did,”


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