Grandfather who choked on Sunday dinner in Southwell thanks 999 call handler who saved his life

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A grandfather who choked on his Sunday roast at a restaurant in Southwell has thanked the EMAS call handler who saved his life.

Keith Arnold, 84, from Moseley in Birmingham was attending a family christening on March 12 when he choked on his roast lamb dinner at The Piano restaurant in Southwell.

A waitress from the restaurant rang 999 and Kerry Jackson, 57, Keith’s nephew from Edwinstowe in Nottingham, followed the instructions given by the emergency call handler to dislodge the blockage.

Keith has now thanked Kim Penney, the emergency call handler from EMAS who provided emergency advice over the phone which saved his life.

Mr Arnold, a retired head teacher from Birmingham, said that when a piece of lamb became stuck in his throat he suddenly realised he couldn’t breathe.

He said: “I was gasping for breath and it was very frightening.

“I don’t remember a thing for about two minutes, but I was told I went blue and collapsed on the floor.

“When I came to, my nephew had got the meat out of my throat. I am very grateful that Kim was able to tell Kerry what to do.”

Although Kerry had seen abdominal thrusts performed on TV programmes, he was unsure of how to perform them on someone lying down and so had to rely on Kim’s calm instructions.

Kerry said: “I jumped up when I saw Keith was slumped in his chair, his arms were hanging down and he wasn’t breathing. He was a dead weight so we couldn’t do the abdominal thrusts and we had to move him onto the floor.

“Kim was a God-send. It was great to have someone on the phone saying ‘this is what you do’.

“The piece of meat that he choked on was so big that we thought it was his false teeth at first.

“We took Keith to the hospital and then he went home, which was a great result.”

Thanks to the clear instructions from our emergency call handler and Kerry’s quick actions, Mr Arnold was breathing by the time our ambulance crews arrived.

Keith has only suffered bruising to his chest and has already made a full recovery.

Kim Penney, EMAS emergency call handler, said that it was the first time in 16 years with the service that she has had to give the abdominal thrust instructions to someone who was lying down.

She said: “I was relieved to hear him cough and that he was breathing again.

“It was lovely to speak to Keith and he said that I helped him make it to 85.”

Keith is now urging people to learn how to do the abdominal thrusts and to step in if they see someone is choking.

He said: “If you know how to help someone, do it. It could save their life.”