Residents in the STAR 1 Program in Norristown, PA, were eating dinner the evening of July 16. As usual, staff had helped the residents decide if they wanted to eat the meal being served at the program or order takeout from a local restaurant.

Eldridge Emerson

One resident decided to order his favorite hoagie, but while he was eating, he started to cough. He hurried over to a water fountain in the dining area and drank to try to clear his throat. Residential Counselor Eldridge Emerson noticed that the resident was acting strangely. He walked over and asked if he needed help.

At that point, the resident fell into Eldridge’s arms. Realizing the man was choking, Eldridge immediately began performing the Heimlich maneuver. Paul Taylor, the weekend shift supervisor, jumped in to help while STAR 1 Program Supervisor Becki Levan called 911.

Eldridge and Paul continued with back blows and abdominal thrusts to try to clear the resident’s airway. As the two staff members worked, the resident lost consciousness and stopped breathing. Once a rescue breath was performed prior to starting CPR, the resident gasped for air and regained consciousness.

Paul Taylor

Recalling the incident, Becki said, ”The ER doctor told me that our staff saved the resident’s life. He said we would have been having a very different conversation if Eldridge and Paul didn’t act as quickly as they did.”

CareLink staff are well-trained to handle emergencies, but Eldridge and Paul truly went above and beyond. The resident later thanked Paul for saving his life, saying “I’m still here because of you.”