KRUM, Texas - A day after a school teacher's quick action to help a choking student, she reflected on the enormity of what happened.
The tense moments started inside a classroom but ended like a textbook example of how to handle a choking emergency.
"I was actually sitting right here at my desk. We were reading a novel, listening to it being read," Krum High School English teacher Carly Lovelace recalled. "I look up and I see my student in distress."
The girl quickly left the classroom and Lovelace went after her.
"According to my students, I sprinted after her," Lovelace said. "Before I knew it, we were both here in the hallway, where I could see it was very visible she was choking on something."
The two of them were in direct view of a hallway surveillance camera.
The student was choking on what turned out to be a cap from a water bottle.
"I knew that because of her facial expression. I’m lucky I have experience in early childhood care, so you never forget what the ‘help me I’m choking’ face looks like," Lovelace said. "So every siren went off in my brain that said, ‘Carly, she is in distress. Go help her.’"
The hallway video shows Lovelace, with her arms around the girl, firmly doing quick compressions, and the cap dislodging from her throat.
If Lovelace seemed calm and collected, that’s because she was.
"I have a long history of early childhood education and that is something that occurs when small children are eating, and it’s something you always have to be hypervigilant about and aware of all times," she said.
Once again breathing, the student’s reaction was to grab her teacher for a long, emotional embrace.
"When I knew she was safe, when she knew she was safe, it was just almost like we just, in that moment, we had to hug it out because we were so happy that she was safe and everything was okay," Lovelace said.
Students are leaving posted notes praising Lovelace. The school principal followed suit.
"She’s an exceptional teacher. She loves her kids. They know she loves them," Krum High School Principal Robert White said. "Sometimes you don’t like having to make that call to your superintendent, but this was a good one and we’re very grateful that everything worked out the way it did."
And just like that long hug, Lovelace has embraced the enormity of those few life-saving seconds.
"Honestly I needed that hug too. I needed to hug it out for a minute, and it was kind of my mama teacher instinct," she added.
With the video circulating online, Lovelace said she has been stopped by not only parents, students, and staff, but complete strangers have come up to her and shared that they are thankful for her reaction.