Grey Saves the Day!
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Grey Saves the Day!

A Local 152 member didn’t hesitate to put his recently acquired first aid training skills to the test.

Grey Zorn-Ford and his family had driven into Winnipeg from their home in Otterburn, Manitoba, for supper at a popular all you-can-eat restaurant. He had just set his children up with food and sat down to eat when he heard a loud commotion a few tables down. The woman’s cries were desperate. “He’s choking. He’s choking!”

Grey, an apprentice carpenter and health and safety representative with Penn-Co Construction Canada Ltd., had recently completed standard first aid training. He leaped up without hesitation and moved quickly to assess the situation, while nearly 200 other restaurant patrons sat frozen to their chairs.

The man was holding his throat and turning red. Grey grabbed him and began the Heimlich maneuver. The man was big, 6’2” and 320 pounds. Grey could barely interlock his fingers around the man’s body just below his diaphragm.

After 90 seconds of holding the man’s weight while repeating the Heimlich again and again, Grey’s muscles were screaming. As his strength began to give out, he called for help.

Two people stepped forward and held the man in place while Grey positioned the man in front of a chair. Grey and the other two men began lifting and forcing the man repeatedly onto the chair in hopes of dislodging the blockage. When this didn’t work, Grey flipped the table on its side, and the three of them proceeded to lift and drop the man onto the table edge. Nothing appeared to be working.

Exhausted, Grey fell to the floor next to the man. The man’s mouth was bloody, and his eyes were a thousand miles away.

By this time, the restaurant had begun to clear out. The 80 or so patrons who remained were loudly yelling different instructions at Grey. He couldn’t feel a pulse and began CPR.

“I tuned everyone out and zoned into what I was doing,” says Grey. “I knew I was in control of the situation. I had just completed my first aid training, so it was natural.”

The man was unresponsive. His wife was beside him crying, “Don’t die on me. Don’t die on me!”

Grey continued CPR with some assistance from others until emergency responders arrived and deployed an AED before taking the man away. Grey contacted the restaurant a few days later to inquire about the man. He was told that the man had a heart attack during the choking event and was resuscitated in the ambulance on the way to hospital. He’d been at the restaurant that evening to celebrate his birthday with his wife, children, and extended family.

Restaurant patrons and staff surrounded Grey after the emergency responders had left with the man and expressed their appreciation.

“I didn’t want to do this, but I did,” says Grey. “Whenever there is a situation and someone needs help, I always try and be there and lend a hand. If it happened to me, I would hope that someone would take charge and save my life.”

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