Dispatcher saves man choking on piece of candy

TITUS COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - By Bob Hallmark - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email | Twitter

TITUS COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - An Oklahoma man is thanking his lucky stars he made an impromptu visit to an East Texas sheriffs office. The stop turned out to save his life.

It started off innocently Saturday night, but then a man in the Titus County Sheriffs Office lobby began to struggle, choking.

"You can see him start going for his mouth with his hand you could tell something was wrong, said Sheriff Tim Ingram. "[He] pulled his hat off and put it back on you see him start to get nervous."

Going back a few minutes, the man was seeking help from the sheriffs office in getting home after being stiffed on a ride. Surveillance video shows him eating a piece of hard candy which gets lodged in his throat.

"He started coughing at first and then the cough changed to a different sound," said Sue Kruse, a dispatcher with the sheriff's office. "He wasn't speaking, and his body language - he was in distress more so."

"[He] pecked on the window, got the dispatchers attention [and] let her know he was choking," said Ingram.

"You have just seconds to really respond to it," said Kruse.

Realizing what was happening, Kruse immediately came to the rescue, calmly turning the man around and freezing his air passage, using the Heimlich technique.

"You know, not everyone would think that fast and know what to do, and what's so remarkable [is that] she never losses her cool - never gets excited," said Ingram. "[She] just calmly walks out...Who would guess she'd be on the radio one minute and out saving a guy the next simply doing the Heimlich."

"To me, it's part of my job," said Kruse. "It's part of my training, and you should help someone in distress - in need."

The sheriffs office recognized Kruse with a letter of commendation.

"I'm just a regular dispatcher," said Kruse. "To me it's something my job requires."

The coolness of a dispatcher can mean the difference between life and death. In this case it was literal.

"He said thank you," she said. "That was enough for me."

"We're awfully proud of her," said Ingram.

Sue Kruse has been with the Titus County Sheriff's Office for four years. As for the man, he is now safe at home in Oklahoma.

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