SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. — She went from touching lives to saving a life.

J.O. Combs Middle School Principal Laura Ridge worked her way up in the J.O. Combs Unified School District like not many before her.

She was first a parent of students, then active in the P.T.A. Then Ridge became en employee of the district and soon a teacher. It wasn’t long before her dedication and compassion propelled her to the position of principal.

On the day before school, J.O. Combs Middle School held their first-ever Taste of Combs event, showcasing the variety of foods that will be offered to students this school year. A far cry from the square pizzas and cold corn dogs of generations past.

It was at this event that Ridge’s observation skills and quick action saved a life.

Principal saves grandparent at school event
Surveillance cameras caught the moment Combs Middle School Principal saved the grandparent of a student, using the Heimlich Maneuver, July 30, 2019.
Combs Middle School

“It was very warm and very dry,” a woman who only prefers to be known as “Jane” told 12 News. “I normally take water with me, but I did not take water that day.”

The midsummer heat proved to be a little too much for Jane.  Her throat was dry and a piece of food at the event became lodged in her throat.

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“I just could not breathe.”

Ridge noticed something was wrong.

“It all happened so fast,” Laura Ridge recalled. “The next thing I knew, I was behind her, giving her the Heimlich Maneuver.”

After three or four tries, the food dislodged.

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“I turned around and gave her a hug,” Jane said. “I was thankful she was there and able to do that.”

ON YOUTUBE: Raw: J.O. Combs Middle School principal recalls lifesaving act

Tragedy usually strikes when we least expect it. Fortunately for Jane, Principal Ridge’s quick actions averted a tragedy at an unsuspecting school function.

“I love being here every day,” Ridge said. “To be able to help somebody in my community makes me really excited and proud.”