“I am very thankful for Louie and the staff for helping me,” Rebollo said. “They saved my life and I know I would do the same for them.” | Photo courtesy SISD
A cafeteria manager in the Socorro Independent School District is being praised for saving a fellow employee by performing the Heimlich maneuver while he was choking.
Luis Gaytan, cafeteria manager at Sgt. Roberto Ituarte Elementary School and Spec. Rafael Hernando III Middle School, took heroic action recently to assist Omar Rebollo, a Child Nutrition Service employee.
“I am very thankful for Louie and the staff for helping me,” Rebollo said. “They saved my life and I know I would do the same for them.”
What started as a regular lunch break for CNS employees at Hernando Middle School turned into a life-saving moment of heroism.
“The first thing I noticed from my office was Omar lifting up both of his arms,” Gaytan said. “I thought he was talking about football again since he is a Cowboys fan and little did I know he was choking!”
The entire week, Gaytan and Rebollo had been discussing the commencement of the NFL season since the teams they root for are rivals. On that day, Rebollo suddenly started choking, signaled the universal choking sign and raised his arms up for help.
Another CNS employee who was near Rebollo started performing the Heimlich but was not able to dislodge the food he was choking on. Seconds later, an employee ran into Gaytan’s office to tell him the situation and he ran out quickly to help Rebollo.
“In a split second your life can change for the better or worse,” Rebollo said. “You never know when you are going to use the Heimlich to save somebody’s life.”
CNS managers and cashiers are required to go through extensive food service, sanitation and safety training prior to employment, which includes learning how to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
“We are so happy that Louis had taken this life-saving training and put it to use to save one of his own employees’ life,” said CNS director Shelley Chenausky. “I am so honored to know an employee like him. Not only is he willing to learn all the safety procedures, but he knew exactly what to do in that split-second situation.”
Gaytan and Rebollo made a deal to go eat lunch at Whataburger on behalf of Rebollo’s appreciation.
“I’m just glad Omar is okay,” Gaytan said. “You never know when something like this will happen to you and I am so grateful that I knew what to do without panicking.”