Restaurant Manager Performs Life-Saving Heimlich Twice - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/4/06-Tyler

Restaurant Manager Performs Life-Saving Heimlich Twice

"You can go a lifetime and hopefully you never have to use it," says Ryan's Restaurant Manager Tony Lopez.

He's talking about the Heimlich manuever. Taking a complete stranger in his arms he performed it after they started choking.

"It looked like maybe a piece of cantaloupe or something solid that she didn't chew very well," recalls Tony. 

But when it happened again he says,"That just put me on edge. Afterwards I had to go to the side everybody asked 'Tony are you ok?' I was kind of shaken it really scared me."

Tony says the choking victim's lips started turning blue. Then she fainted, falling face down on the floor.

"I put my arms around her and grabbed her from the bottom.  I picked her up from the chest and jammed my thumbs right in her breast bone here."

Another Ryan's employee, Danielle Spangler, witnessed the incident, "He was on the floor like this doing the Heimlich maneuver on her. I mean on the floor! That was the amazing thing to me that she wasn't even standing up."

Tony adds, "So I picked her up and gave her one good wack and then it just came out and you can hear the air rushing to her lungs."

In order to work for the company Tony was trained and certified in various first aid techniques, which included the Heimlich manuever. He never imagined using it on two people in a matter of days.

"Everybody should learn it, I mean something so simple. Nobody should have to lose their life for something so simple." says Tony.

Managing this bustling restaurant, Tony never knew he'd stare life or death in the face--twice.

But this story's two happy endings has everybody breathing a sigh of relief.

There were medical crews on the scene who took over after the choking victims were stabilized. Tony says he's heard one of the victims is doing okay, but has not heard how the other one is doing.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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