By Tanya Kazanjian
It was a regular day in June when Sannette Coles was wrapping up a phone call and heard a sound that made her jump out of her chair to see what could be wrong. She knew that something was not right when the deep grunting sound was accompanied by a loud thump.
Sannette’s immediate reaction was to check on her two employees who had been in their cubes earlier that morning. It was then that she saw Cindy Ramirez, a KP social worker, performing the Heimlich maneuver on Anila Omar, a community navigator. In the brief moments it took Sannette to get up from her seat to check on her employees, Anila was choking on a piece of kale. When she realized she was choking and was not able dislodge the piece of food herself, she let out a loud grunt in her struggle to breathe and began to jump in an effort to move the piece of kale. Cindy was quick to spring into action when she realized Anila was choking. She grabbed her and began the abdominal thrusts. Within seconds, the kale was dislodged, and Anila was able to catch her breath and speak.
It was an emotional moment when the reality of the incident hit all of them—the thought of what could have happened if Cindy hadn’t sprung into action after hearing and seeing Anila’s attempts for help, or if she didn’t know the Heimlich maneuver or had never performed it. What if Sannette had brushed the noise off as unimportant and stayed in her office? So many what ifs, but the reality was that the training that Cindy received as a social worker allowed her to save her colleague’s life.
Being aware of your surroundings, being alert, and willing to help—that is what happened that morning on June 2 when a coworker saved another coworker’s life.
Employee and member safety is our highest priority, and it’s everyone’s job to make sure we have a safe workplace. We are so fortunate to have employees who are dedicated to helping others and making KP a safe place to work. Thank you to Sannette and Cindy for your diligence and quick thinking!