Quick-thinking restaurant server saves woman choking on toast

Server at Ricky's in Abbotsford uses first-aid training

Rachael Brien

Rachael Brien

If not for her server’s quick thinking and first aid training, Rachael Brien isn’t sure whether she’d still be alive today.

She was out for dinner on Tuesday night at Ricky’s Country Restaurant on Marshall Road with her 20-year-old son. She ordered “breakfast for dinner” eggs, bacon and toast.

Halfway through her meal, Brien took a bite of toast and began to choke.

“I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “It was so scary.” Her son reflected her look of panic, and yelled for help.

Feeling she was about to pass out, Brien stood up out of her booth, hoping to attract more attention. The next thing Brien knew, her server, Jordan Ketting-Olivier, came up behind her.

He told her he knew first aid, and asked if she could cough it out. She couldn’t.

He pounded her back, but she kept choking. He then wrapped his arms around Brien, just below her rib cage, and performed the Heimlich manoeuvre.

“That got the food to pop out,” she recalled.

Ketting-Olivier sat back down with her in the booth, helping her calm down from the crisis. As she finished the rest of her meal, he checked back repeatedly to see how Brien was doing.

When she got up to pay the bill, she told the story to the host and was told this wasn’t the first time the multi-talented server had saved someone’s life.

“I was telling the gentleman as I was paying the bill, and he said that was the second time this year Jordan has done that for somebody,” she said.

Ketting-Olivier says he has worked at Ricky’s uneventfully for eight years, but a similar incident happened just four months before, when he helped another woman choking on her food in a nearby booth.

He had just renewed his first aid certification the day before, because he’s currently applying to the Abbotsford Police Department.

Brien, for one, would be glad to see him on the force.

“I think he’d make a great police officer,” she said. “He has a very nice demeanor about him, and he stays calm in tough situations.”

Brien brought in a card to thank Ketting-Olivier the next day.

“You can really only thank someone so many times,” she said. “He just said, ‘You’re welcome.’ I could tell he didn’t want to be made a fuss of. He was very gracious about it.

“He kept a level head, he seemed to know what he was doing and, without hesitation, he came and helped.

“I was very thankful he was there, or I didn’t know what would’ve happened to me.”

Ketting-Olivier recommends that more people get first aid training, so they can help out like he did.

“More people should take these courses,” he said. “It really comes in handy, helps you stay calm and it saves people’s lives.”