Store Manager & Nurse Save Elderly Lady in Mall

Posted by cocreator on June 06, 2011
Events / No Comments

Janet Nielsen, 63, and her husband were finishing up their shopping and were hungry and tired, so they stopped at a sample table to eat a slice of pizza.

“When I stuck it in my mouth and started chewing, I could feel it slithering down my throat, and it obviously blocked my airway, and that’s when this episode started,” Nielsen said.

Her husband started performing the Heimlich manoeuvre, and then a Costco employee asked him if he needed assistance. That’s when Debbie Osterman, 47, a manager at Costco, entered into the scene.

“You don’t have a chance to think, your body and mind goes into automatic, you don’t think of your training, you don’t think of anything, you just jump in,” Osterman said. She took over the Heimlich, but Nielsen was starting to lose consciousness. “It was almost like a grey thing was coming down, when I was losing consciousness,” Nielsen said.

“I remember feeling my legs sort of going out from under me.”

Laurel Underhill, 44, a nurse at the Grey Nuns Hospital, noticed the crowd of people around Nielsen.

“I thought, there must be a good food sample there,” she said.

When she realized what was going on, she jumped in to help.

By that time, Nielsen said her heart had stopped. Underhill and another nurse started performing CPR, and after a couple of breaths, Nielsen began breathing on her own again. Paramedics arrived about a minute later.

“The next thing that I remember is waking up as they were frantically wheeling me out of Costco on a stretcher,” Nielsen said.

She said the only lasting effects were some “really, really sore ribs,” but that the doctor told her it was a small price to pay for her life.

Underhill and Nielsen met for the first time at the St. John Ambulance awards ceremony. Nielsen told her, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

“There’s a bond here that’s never going to go away,” Nielsen said.

Now, every time Nielsen goes to Costco, she and Osterman say hello and hug each other.

Nielsen was the one who nominated Underhill and Osterman, in addition to one other woman who couldn’t attend the event, for the award. She managed to track them down by remembering where they worked.

“I had to find a way to recognize their efforts,” she said. Nielsen described a fourth woman who also helped her. She hasn’t been able to track her down yet.

“She had a little tiny baby in a stroller, and she was the first one to show up,” she said.

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