KC Chiefs pro bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez saved a man’s life last week, but the story raises a disturbing question.
Gonzalez was having dinner with his family at Capone’s restaurant in Huntington Beach, California, when a woman behind him started screaming. Her boyfriend, Ken Hunter, had a piece of meat stuck in his throat and couldn’t breathe. No one else was doing anything to help, so Gonzalez got up and applied the Heimlich maneuver to Hunter. In a few seconds, the piece of meat popped out and Hunter could breathe again.
Now, the disturbing part: Diana Martin, a Capone’s employee, said no one else seemed to know what to do. How is that possible? Of the entire wait staff, no one knew how to do the Heimlich? That’s just wrong.
Every restaurant owner who reads this should immediately plan to train their employees in how to do the maneuver, just in case. I’m not talking about the guy washing dishes in the back of the kitchen, or the woman running the fries machine at Wendy’s. I mean any staff that works the dining area, where you might encounter a choking customer. Waiters, waitresses, managers, the maitre d’, hostesses, even the kid who refills the water glasses — they should all be taught how to come to the aid of someone with a hunk of steak caught in their throat.
By the way, Gonzalez says he never had any formal instruction in the Heimlich maneuver. He’d just seen it done, so he did it. Is it too much to ask that the people who work in the restaurant be ready, just in case there isn’t a life-saving nine-time NFL Pro Bowler around?