Our lives can change for better or worse in an instant, a perfect example of which occurred recently at the California Chicken Café in West Hills when a patron suddenly began choking.
Unable to breathe, the patron hunched over his table while his alarmed wife and son witnessed the ordeal. As his wife began calling 911, others passed by without offering any help until Topanga Area Police Officer III Mark Mireles sprang into action. Officer Mireles was on his lunch break.
The choking man’s wife motioned for him to come to their table. “It was evident that his airway was obstructed.” said Officer Mireles. “He couldn’t even make a sound. I knew I had seconds to act.” Without a moment’s hesitation, Officer Mireles asked his partner to call 911 and began performing the Heimlich maneuver on the man. After several thrusts, it appeared the man’s airway had cleared, and Officer Mireles stayed with the man and his family till paramedics arrived.
Coincidentally, 48-year-old Officer Mireles had undergone first aid training just weeks before the incident, but he claims he was merely doing his job when he very well may have saved the man’s life. Nor does he consider himself a hero, even though he has been honored with three Medals of Valor during his 25 years with the Department.
One thing for sure…Officer Mireles hopes the incident will motivate people to become familiar with life-saving techniques like the Heimlich maneuver because one never knows when such knowledge will come in handy or literally mean the difference between life and death.