TSU nursing student saves driver’s life with Heimlich maneuver

Courtesy WSMV Channel 4

Nancy Diaz
Nancy Diaz

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A first-year nursing student at Tennessee State University is being called a hero after putting some of her classroom skills to use to save a man’s life.

Nancy Diaz has always dreamed of helping sick people. What she didn’t expect was to save a life with the Heimlich maneuver, one of the first skills she learned.

“I’ve never done it before so I was scared,” Diaz said. “I didn’t even know if I was doing it right or not, but I still decided to do it. Doing something is better than not doing anything at all.”

Last Thursday, Diaz was driving on Highway 431 near Joelton when the man in front of her suddenly began swerving on the road. He then came to a stop in the middle of both lanes.

“He was grabbing his neck, so I knocked on the window several times because I tried to open the door and it was locked,” Diaz said.

After convincing him to open the door, Diaz went to work.

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“He got on his knees and I got behind him and started performing the Heimlich maneuver,” Diaz said. “After three or four pushes, something came out.”

The driver choked on a large chunk of an apple he swallowed by accident.

Diaz would not have even been on that road had she not forgotten her ID that day and had to drive back home.

“I think it must have been destiny or God, because that’s the first time I’ve ever forgotten by ID,” she said.

Already late for class, Diaz took off without even thinking to ask for the man’s name.

“He was thanking me like 50 times,” she said. “Then he asked me, ‘Is there anything I can do for you?’ I said, ‘Well, yes, when you’re driving, please don’t eat apples.'”

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About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.