Teen McDonald’s worker leaps through drive-thru window to save choking customer

Teen employee saves woman choking on chicken nugget using the Heimlich manoeuvre

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Tuesday 21 December 2021 17:06 GMT
File: Sydney Raley was rewarded $100 for her heroic action
File: Sydney Raley was rewarded $100 for her heroic action (AFP via Getty Images)

A 15-year-old Minnesota McDonald’s employee’s lessons in the Heimlich manoeuvre came in handy after she leaped through the restaurant’s drive-thru window and saved a choking customer.

Sydney Raley had been working with the outlet in Eden Prairie city near Minneapolis for around seven months and on Saturday she was working on what seemed like just another routine weekend shift.

“The day had been mostly normal – making coffee, making drinks. Going into the lunch rush, it was all normal,” she told CNN.

However, when she popped back out of the drive-thru window to inform a customer that the rest of her food was on the way, she noticed the woman was choking on a chicken nugget.

Sydney said the customer was “coughing like crazy” and gagging when her daughter in the passenger seat looked “freaked out”.

The teen promptly instructed her manager and the customer's daughter to call 911 before jumping through the window to help the woman.

Sydney had first tried to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre, which she had learned at the age of 11, at a Red Cross babysitter class.

But the abdominal thrust manoeuvre didn’t work a couple of times so she called on a bystander to assist. Both then worked together and were able to dislodge the food from the woman’s throat.

“It could’ve ended a lot worse, but I am super thankful for that bystander who helped so much. Because I am decent at first aid, but if it weren’t for him and our efforts together, it could’ve ended so much worse,” she told the Washington Examiner.

Officers from the Eden Prairie Police Department reached the spot to check on the woman and offered a reward for the teen. She was awarded $100 (£76) as a part of “Cops & Cash for the Holidays” programme.

“We’re very proud of Sydney. She’s a great example of how all of us – no matter our age or position – can make a difference in our communities,” Scott Mittelstadt, who was the supervising sergeant at the time of the incident, said in a statement.

Ms Raley’s father Tom said she was diagnosed with autism when she was younger.

“We are incredibly proud of Sydney and her quick, heroic actions over the weekend to help one of our valued customers,” the outlet’s owner-operator Paul Ostergaard said.

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