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Employee at Einstein Medical Center Elkins Park Saves a Woman from Choking

By on 10/25/2015

Ramona Murray, a surgical technologist at Einstein Medical Center Elkins Park (EMCEP), had just sat down to lunch in the hospital cafeteria one day a week ago when she looked up and noticed a commotion at a nearby table.

“There was a couple sitting across from me, a man and a woman, both in their 60s,” she recalls. Suddenly, she says, the woman “jumped out of her seat and started flailing her arms.  At first I didn’t know what was going on. Then she put her hands across her throat. That’s when I realized she was choking.”

The woman’s husband had started to perform the Heimlich maneuver (abdominal thrusts), but was getting nowhere. Murray ran to the table and took over.

“I tried it two times, and nothing happened,” Murray says. “The third time, a piece of chicken flew out.”

It had all happened in a matter of moments. People nearby, including hospital personnel, were astonished.

“I thought: Oh my God, what just happened? I’m just glad I was in the right place at the right time.”
—Ramona Murray

So were the woman and her husband. “After she caught her breath,” Murray says, “she just started kissing my hand, and her husband hugged me.”

After accepting the couple’s gratitude, Murray went back to her lunch. But before she knew it, word of her life-saving efforts began spreading around the hospital.

Murray’s supervisor, Annette Yerkes RN, BSN, the nurse manager of surgical services, heard about it from her assistant manager Steve Alessandroni. “You’re not going to believe what I just witnessed,” he told her. “I’m still in awe.”

Yerkes helped spread the news. “I thought how proud I was,” she says. “What a great job for Ramona. I couldn’t help it. I was telling everybody—it’s just a wonderful story to share.”

Murray, a surgical technician since 2003 and an Einstein Elkins Park employee for just three months, was initially unfazed. Coming to the aid of a choking person is certainly not part of her everyday job, but on the other hand all health care professionals receive that kind of emergency training. “It was just natural, Murray says. “It was just a natural reaction.”

It was only other later that it hit her that she had just saved a person from choking to death right in front of her. “I thought: Oh my God, what just happened? I’m just glad I was in the right place at the right time.”

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