Daniel Tomlinson didn't expect to have his skills tried in a personal finance class that day. He was honored last week for saving a classmate's life using the Heimlich maneuver.

Sometimes you don’t know what you are capable of until you are tested.

For Daniel Tomlinson, a Penn Yan Academy senior, the test came in a classroom, but it wasn’t one you’d expect in a personal finance class.

The class of about 25 students was taking a break between the two periods of the class, and their teacher was in the hallway monitoring other students when one of their classmates began to act oddly.

Tomlinson says the student just stood up and bent over the garbage can with his arms dangling. When the student nodded to Tomlinson’s question, “Are you choking?” he took the steps he’d learned in Boy Scout First Aid training.

It took four abdominal thrusts, but on the final Heimlich maneuver, a piece of chocolate candy came out of the young man’s mouth, and he escaped a trip in an ambulance, thanks to Tomlinson.

Calling his own actions “instinctive,” Tomlinson says, “I was surprised that I knew what to do,” explaining that the thrusts that are taught in first aid aren’t something that can be practiced on a human subject.

PYA Assistant Principal Warren Kinsey says Tomlinson’s quick action is an indication of a different mentality that spurs some people to take action while others stand by. “That situation could have only gotten worse,” says Kinsey. Waiting for the teacher to return or taking the time to summon the nurse could have delayed the student’s recovery.

“It’s a special brand of person who is able to do that,” says Kinsey.

Tomlinson, the son of David and Katie Tomlinson, who is planning to attend either SUNY ESF or Paul Smith College, was presented with a certificate for Heroic Action of Citizenship by Penn Yan Superintendent of Schools Howard Dennis.

Dennis, who can’t recall having recognized a Penn Yan student for such heroics, commented, “Daniel certainly showed his willingness and ability to step up and do what he needed to do in a very difficult situation. We are very proud of Daniel.”