Server who used Heimlich maneuver to save choking diner awarded

LVAC President Chester Popiolkowski awards Olive Tree server Alyse Kelm a life saver award on Dec. 8. Kelm performed the Heimlich maneuver on a choking customer on Nov. 24.

The restaurant server who used the Heimlich maneuver to save a choking customer was given a proclamation from Town of Lancaster Supervisor Dino Fudoli and a life saver award from the Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Corps on Dec. 8.

Retired Depew resident Ginny Caine rose from her seat the morning of Nov. 24 choking on a piece of steak at the Olive Tree. She couldn’t breathe. Someone asked if they should call 9-1-1. Yes, Caine nodded. But then server Alyse Kelm came running to her and performed a series of abdominal thrusts to dislodge the food.

The women’s connection? They had both learned the Heimlich maneuver, CPR and basic first aid from LVAC. Kelm had recently learned the skills as part of her requirements as a cheerleading coach at Alden High School.

“As I was choking I couldn’t help but hope and pray that someone in the restaurant had taken a course like I did,” said Caine.

LVAC has a long history of training the public in these basic life-saving skills. In fact, in the last year LVAC has trained hundreds of Lancaster High School students.

“What happened to Ginny and Alyse’s action is certainly a testimony to how important it is for more people to be prepared in emergency first aid,” LVAC President Chester Popiolkowski said during the ceremony. He praised Kelm’s “quick action” in helping Caine.

On Dec. 8, Olive Tree owner Nick Aronis announced his plan to have all his employees trained by LVAC and challenged other area restaurant owners to have their employees trained, too.

“In saluting Alyse’s action, we hope to encourage others to take the time to learn basic first aid,” said Popiolkowski. “You never know when your skills can save a life.”

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