If ever there was a day to take the afternoon off, Andrew Brown sure picked it.
A lineman at Mississippi’s Singing River Electric Cooperative, Brown got an early jump on the weekend, heading out on a Friday to visit family in Atlanta.
“We stopped about halfway in Montgomery, Alabama,” Brown recalled. And if ever there was a time and place to pull off the highway for dinner, he sure picked that, too.
Brown, his wife and his mother had just ordered appetizers at an Outback Steakhouse when he noticed a woman at the next table appeared to be in some sort of distress. The man with her “was patting her on the back, but he didn’t really know what to do,” said Brown.
Being a co-op lineman, Brown knew exactly what to do.
“Once I realized she was choking, I told him I was CPR-trained. He said to help her.”
Brown didn’t hesitate.
“I gave her a couple of back blows and then the Heimlich maneuver. She went unconscious, and I laid her down on the booth and gave her CPR,” said Brown. It took about 20 chest compressions before the woman regained consciousness.
A nurse who also happened to be in the restaurant helped out and was able to dislodge the food. The victim, who Brown estimates is in her 70s, was OK.
All of it was a little bit much for Brown’s mother, whom he describes as being “a little light on her stomach,” but she helped out in her own way.
“She went into the lobby, and a couple there was wondering what was going on. She told them, and they said, ‘Would you like to pray with us?’ So they prayed,” said Brown.
When paramedics arrived, they took over tending to the victim, and Brown and his family went back to dinner. The victim’s nephew wanted to give Brown some money, but he wouldn’t hear of it.
And it turns out taking half a day off and stopping at Outback weren’t Brown’s only well-timed moves that June day. That morning at work “we had CPR training,” said Brown, 25, who’s been with Lucedale, Mississippi-based Singing River for two years. He learned CPR when he was 18 but agreed that was a well-timed refresher course.
“It is for sure.”
Michael W. Kahn is a staff writer at NRECA.