When University of Colorado sophomore Justin Rouleau heard that someone was choking during his shift as a cook at the Center for Community, he said his brain turned off and he sprang to action.

"When it happened, I just went on autopilot and my subconscious kind of took over with all the training that I had known for years," Rouleau said. "It wasn't until after the fact that (I realized) it was a big deal. In the moment, I wasn't thinking about it at all."

Rouleau, Daniel Kotsides and Nathaniel Pohl all assisted in reviving Willard Cooperstock earlier this fall and were awarded the Lifesaving Award from the CU police department on Monday morning for their efforts.

Rouleau was training another employee in the center dining hall on Aug. 30 when CU music professor Andrew Cooperstock ran over saying that his father, Willard, was choking. Rouleau, who's studying economics, worked as a lifeguard for several years and had extensive First Aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, training.

He began performing the Heimlich maneuver on Willard Cooperstock, but the 80-year-old man soon became unconscious. Pohl, a resident advisor who was eating lunch at the at the dining hall at the time, and Kotsides, a community safety officer, ran over and began CPR on Cooperstock.

Kotsides radioed for paramedics and ran to the hall to grab an automated external defibrillator. After four or five minutes of chest compressions and rescue breaths, Cooperstock started coughing and paramedics took over caring for him.


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Interim CU police chief Ron Burns recounted the events of that night during Monday's ceremony, and said Rouleau, Pohl and Kotsides saved Cooperstock's life because of their quick responses and willingness to act.

The Lifesaving Award is the highest CU police honor presented to members of the public.

"You deserve the respect and admiration of our campus community," Burns said.

Pohl, a senior studying computer science, said performing life-saving procedures is part of his job as a resident advisor, so he didn't think about anything except helping Cooperstock start breathing again. All three students said Cooperstock was the first person they'd ever helped save from a life-threatening situation.

"I just think of it as human decency, being able to help out someone else," Pohl said.

Neither Cooperstock, who lives in Waldorf, Md., nor his son, Andrew, were able to attend the ceremony.

Andrew Cooperstock expressed his thanks to the three students in a written statement.

"I would like to express our deep appreciation for the quick and skillful work you did on August 30 to revive my father, while he was visiting Boulder," he said. "As time moves on, one becomes ever more appreciative of the fragility and preciousness of life and family, and we are very grateful to you."

Contact Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106, kutas@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/sarahkuta.