Society

Waitress Saves Toddler Choking On A Chip

| by Alex Scarr

A waitress rushed to rescue a toddler who was choking on chips, hurrying from a group of nearby tables.

Maria Romo of Lexington, North Carolina, was serving other tables when she noticed a 17-month-old choking on tortilla chips served at the table. Surveillance video shows Romo springing into action to grab the toddler and quickly performing the Heimlich maneuver, according to WFMY.

With the toddler's airways cleared, restaurant guests are calling Romo a hero.

"I think that's really great, especially because sometimes parent would panic and then, someone else knowing what they need to do, and step in and help the child so he's not choking is really great," said customer Emily Towery.

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Another diner marveled at Romo's quick reaction.

"It would be something that you need to do right away to help the child," the customer said, noting that a small child does not have much time after he begins choking.

"Oh, my goodness!" wrote a commenter on Facebook after watching the surveillance video. "Then she just walks away like it's all in a days work? Wow!"

The National Restaurant Association provides tips on how servers, hosts and other restaurant staff can identify and handle choking incidents. According to the American Red Cross, more than 3,000 people die as a result of choking every year, and most cases are preventable.

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The National Restaurant Association gives several tips for servers to pass on to parents who bring small children, including cutting up foods into small pieces so they are less of a choking hazard. It also advises removing grapes, nuts, small vegetables and other small foods from dishes that are served to children, as these may also pose a choking hazard.

Alcohol before or during dinner can increase the chances of choking in adults, as it dulls the nerves that help in swallowing. Dentures also pose a choking hazard, because they make it difficult for the person to sense if food is fully chewed before swallowing. Common eating practices like sitting up straight and not eating too quickly can also lower the risk of choking.

According to LegalMatch, restaurants have a general obligation to assist customers choking on food. Often, that simply means servers or others are required to call medical personnel in a reasonable amount of time.  

But for Romo, she simply heard the call and reacted.

"I heard the mama say, 'My baby is choking,' and I just ran over there to help," she said.

Sources: WFMY, National Restaurant Association, LegalMatch / Photo credit: bambe1964/Flickr

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