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SAN DIEGO – Choking can happen to any of us, at any age. If it does, you need to know that someone is around who knows how to help.

Our FOX 5 family has first-hand experience with someone who was choking. It was a typical, hectic afternoon in the FOX 5 newsroom when the day took a dramatic turn.

“I was thinking I was probably going to die,” said assignment manager Jill Chandler, who was now in crisis.

“I didn’t believe that I was choking,” Chandler said. “I took a bite of salad. There’s no way I’m choking.”

A co-worker called 911, but most of the newsroom felt paralyzed because we didn’t know what to do.

“You could see her just trying to breathe,” said Aida Soria. “But nothing was happening. I looked around and everyone was frozen in the newsroom.”

However, operational manager Matt Groeteke was prepared.

“I immediately started to give her the Heimlich Maneuver. I was giving it everything I had. There really wasn’t an option. I was just giving it everything I had to make sure that she could breathe again.”

Groeteke  was able to clear Chandler’s airway and she could breathe again.

“He saved me. I’m forever grateful!”

Learn More: Conscious Choking Steps

The American Red Cross has this advice if you come across a conscious, choking individual that is coughing. Encourage continued coughing. If the victim is unable to cough, speak, or breathe, complete the following:

  • Send someone to call 9-1-1
  • Lean person forward and give 5 back blows with heel of your hand.
  • Give 5 quick abdominal thrusts by placing the thumbside of your fist against the middle of the victim’s abdomen, just above the navel.
  • Grab your fist with the other hand.
  • Repeat until the object the person is choking on is forced out and person breathes or coughs on his or her own.