EMR In Action

Every year, sometimes, right after EMR is over, Type 2 Team members get called upon to use their training in non-search situations. This is team member Steve Webber's story:

"I was at work and we were taking a co-worker out to lunch for her birthday to the Bravo Italian Bistro in Pleasant Hill. 

The waiter had just seated us when another waiter from the back of the room announced that someone was choking and asked if anyone knew the Heimlich. Without hesitation, I sprung from my seat and approached an elderly man (80+) standing and hunched over trying to discard something from his throat into a napkin his wife was holding. 

The man couldn’t speak or cough; he could only spit into the napkin. I let the couple know that I had first-aid experience and asked if they needed help. Both indicated yes. 

In my head, the conversation went: "Okay Steve this is the real deal … I know this stuff."  I turned to the waiter and said "Call 911."  I watched the man’s mouth and throat very carefully: Was he able to cough? No. I also noticed his lips were turning blue and his cheeks were flushed. 

I reached my left arm across his torso and proceeded to administer five solid blows between his shoulder blades. Nothing. I was preparing for abdominal thrusts and I was thinking, “If this guy goes down, I need to ease him down and then jump into CPR mode,” and then, “I am going to hurt this poor frail old guy.” 

Just as I was reaching around to place my thumb and fist above his navel, he coughed out a piece of meat the size of a shelled peanut.  Thank goodness, no abdominal thrusts needed.  He slowly took in some air, then a little more until he regained normal air intake and facial color. 

The waiter, with the phone to his ear, was asking if EMS was still needed.  The man and wife both indicated to the waiter that he is alright and it is okay to call off the EMS. The man wanted to go to the bathroom, but I convinced him to sit and relax for a few minutes. I didn't want him to be alone in case some other complications came post-choking. 

They both thanked me and I returned to my table. Some patrons and my coworkers congratulated me for a job well done. 

Strangely enough I felt calm and confident. It felt natural. For the rest of the day, I only had several thoughts of the incident. It really never hit me that I may have saved this guy’s life. It felt natural – like “just another day at the office.”  Where did this come from?  This is not like me. Then it hit me:  I have been trained by CoCoSAR; this is what we are trained to do. The quality and repetition of our training gave me the skills and confidence to do this. Another life saved by the Contra Costa County Search and Rescue Team."