Canadian Red Cross volunteer saves New Jersey man from choking

Topics: Alberta, Worldwide, Our Impact on the Ground
December 07, 2012

Canadian Red Cross volunteer saves New Jersey man from choking

Emergencies and disasters can strike at any time, and while non-profit agencies play a crucial role in the recovery process, the knowledge and skills that one person has can often mean the difference between life and death for someone in need.

As part of the world's largest non-profit organization, the Canadian Red Cross strives to help those affected by major incidents. While the Canadian Red Cross responds to issues around the world, it only takes one moment - and one person - for someone's life to change forever.

Susan's story
Susan Mackenzie is a Canadian Red Cross disaster volunteer from Calgary who has been working at Monmouth Park Raceway, a shelter located in Oceanport, New Jersey.

Her day-to-day activities include welcoming people who have just arrived, assisting in the distribution of meals and responding to the mental health needs of those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

However, on November 17, Susan was called upon to act in an unforgettable way. As people assembled in the shelter's dining area for a meal, Susan noticed someone across the room having trouble coughing.

As she approached, she realized that the man was choking.

"I owe you my life."
Susan, who has training in first aid and CPR, immediately responded to the man in need. First, she asked him if he needed help. Then, when it became clear that he did, she asked him to lift his arms up.

Moving behind him, Susan wrapped her arms around the man and began performing abdominal thrusts. As she administered aid, she cried out for assistance from medical staff located nearby. A nurse arrived and determined that the man's airway was obstructed.

With a forceful, upward thrust, the man was able to cough once more and the food that had been caught in the man's throat became dislodged. Thanks to Susan's quick response, the man - 79-year-old Water Hatch - could breathe again.

In the days that followed the incident, the Brick, New Jersey, native offered Susan many hugs and repeatedly told her, "I owe you my life."

Show your support
Dedicated volunteers like Susan play an essential role in the Canadian Red Cross' efforts to help communities affected by emergencies and disasters, and with the support of generous Canadians like you, the Canadian Red Cross can continue to offer programs that allow those volunteers to provide crucial aid.

By choosing to donate to the Canadian Red Cross, you can make a difference in the lives of those in need and support our impact on the ground.

To learn more about the Canadian Red Cross' disaster response operations around the world and how you can help, please visit us online or contact your local Canadian Red Cross office today. 

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