By Tanner Cole
Three Army medical professionals prevented a woman from choking at Applebee’s restaurant in Radcliff, Kentucky, on Saturday night.
Col. Brian McGlinch, an Army physician, noticed employees attempting to remove a customer from her chair. He began performing the Heimlich maneuver after identifying that she was choking. He was immediately assisted by a pair of Army nurses, 2nd Lt. Jordan Flynn and 2nd Lt. Kelby Tidey. Together they began alternating choke-prevention techniques. After about four minutes of the woman turning blue with cyanosis and nearing cardiac arrest, the lieutenants cleared the airway allowing McGlinch to remove a large piece of steak from the woman’s throat.
“I was not physically able to open the airway,” McGlinch said. “It was their training, expertise and physical condition that allowed me to remove the obstruction.”
Gidget Wolz, the general manager of the Applebee’s, walked out of the restaurant’s backroom to find the rescue underway. Once the choking ceased, she announced their success to the busy dining room.
“Everybody started clapping,” Wolz said. “I told everybody ‘Hey, she’s breathing. She’s OK,’ and everybody started thanking them.”
Wolz was amazed by the speed with which the trio reacted to the situation. She said the restaurant was packed with customers, but they still reacted quickly.
“I had just walked by the table while they were seating me and heard someone say ‘Is she choking,’” McGlinch said. “Flynn and Tidey immediately came over when they saw it was an emergency.”
According to McGlinch, if the pair had not taken over their patient would have entered cardiac arrest before the ambulance arrived. Because they worked as a team to handle the situation, the choking victim was able to simply walk aboard. She was then taken to Hardin Memorial Hospital.
Tidey, of University of South Carolina, and Flynn, of Pacific Lutheran University, are in the early stages of their Army career. The two will receive Army Achievement Medals for their actions. Their heroic actions bode well for their future careers as Army nurses, and the honor will also help their professional aspirations.
Regardless of the accolades, the young pair likely saved a life with assistance from McGlinch.
“Really and truthfully, if they hadn’t been here that day I don’t know what the outcome would have been,” Wolz said. “I’m very thankful for their presence.”