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Former Assistant Cubmaster Saves Boy Scout from Choking

March 3, 2014

John Mason didn’t think – he just did what needed to be done when paraprofessional Gina Trout passed a red-faced student choking on a nacho chip to him. No words passed between them – none were necessary. Mason performed the Heimlich maneuver on sixth-grader Nick Bierschenk until the chip was dislodged and Nick was able to breathe again.

“It took three attempts to get the chip out,” said Mason. “Gina tried to do it, but he had his coat wrapped around his waist and she couldn’t get her arms around him. He was turning from red to purple by the time it was over.”

Custodian John Mason and Paraprofessional Gina Trout talking with WOWTV6 News Crew at Hickory Hill Elementary School.

Custodian John Mason and Paraprofessional Gina Trout talking with WOWTV6 News Crew at Hickory Hill Elementary School.

It was Taco Tuesday and Nick had been eating lunch in the school cafeteria when he began choking on the chip. When he realized he couldn’t breathe, he tapped Trout on the shoulder while holding his hands around his neck – the universal sign that one is choking. After the incident, a little shaky, but breathing again, Nick was taken to the school nurse to get checked out, and then returned to class after his parents were notified. Later, he high-fived Mason in gratitude for saving his life.

Mason is the custodian at the Hickory Hill Elementary school in the Papillion/ LaVista School District. He’s worked there for a little more than 10 years. Most students refer to him as “Mr. John the janitor Mason”.

“In the education field, everything is about training,” stated Mason. Papillion/LaVista School District requires all staff to be trained in First Aid. But, Mason got his training years before as an Assistant Cubmaster for Pack #341 sponsored by Jefferson Elementary School in Lewis & Clark District.

“I went through Cub Scout Leader training every year, and used to kind of wonder sometimes do I really need this and would I ever use it?” mused Mason. “Then, 10 to 15 years later, it comes in handy! There I was just doing what needed to be done without having to think about it and really glad that I knew what to do.”

John Mason - photo by D. Wagner, MAC, BSA

John Mason – photo by D. Wagner, MAC, BSA

“It needed to be done, and I did it. That’s pretty much my philosophy. That’s kind of how I am about things,” he affirmed.

Mason served as Asst. Cubmaster for Pack 341 for five years, then served as Pack Committee Chair for a couple years and finally served as Lewis & Clark District Activities Chair for about six months from 1985-2003. He remembers fondly being referred to as the pack “Pinewood Derby guy”.

“I had a garage big enough to store the track,” he smiled. “So, every year I was in charge of the Pinewood Derby.” He and his wife worked with Cubmaster Ron Bradford to make the pack go. Mason has three boys who went through the Scouting program. The boys are now aged 31, 30 and 24.

Mason stated his favorite thing about Scouting was, “Watching the boys grow and learn. There’s so much for them to do and experience. I really enjoyed helping the boys.”

Nick Bierschenk is also a Boy Scout. He’s a member of Troop 60 in the Soaring Eagle District. Boy Scouts are also trained in basic First Aid and know what to do to get help when choking.

The Mid-America Council would like to thank and congratulate John Mason for his quick and heroic actions on Tuesday, February 25, 2014, and for his many years of service to our Scouting youth and families.

Auther – Dixie Wagner, Mid-America Council, Boy Scouts of America

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