Ever wonder when you will actually need the training your employer sits you through? For a Florida employee on work travel, it happened while out to dinner with a coworker in South Carolina.

The two men were sitting down next to a man and his wife, who they had been chatting with for a while, when he suddenly started chocking on a chunk of meat.

The man’s employer, Duke Energy, wrote an article in their internal newsletter about this proud moment where Distribution Field Manager Chris Misturak saved this stranger’s life.

Safety moments can happen anywhere — even in the middle of a long trip.

Chris Misturak

Returning from storm-repair work in Maryland earlier this month, Chris Misturak and Dan D’Alessandro stopped at a restaurant in Florence, S.C.
Traveling ahead of other employees, they were reserving seating for 50 crew members when they decided on an early dinner. Their experience turned into a different type of “daily special.”
Placing their orders, D’Alessandro, an operations manager with 25 years at the company, and Misturak, a 14-year-veteran distribution field supervisor, struck up a conversation with an elderly couple in the booth across the aisle.
They were in town to visit the local VA hospital, where the 77-year-old man was to get treatment. The couple got their main course as the two employees dug into their salads.
Misturak then noticed the elderly man take a drink of water only to have it dribble down his chin. He began to turn red. “Are you all right?” Misturak asked. The man could only point at his throat. He was choking on a piece of meat. Misturak is trained in first aid, and knew exactly what to do.
Knowing what to do
D’Alessandro picks up the story: “This was a big guy – 6-foot-1, 300 pounds — and he was wedged into the booth. Chris was up before I knew what was happening. He drags the guy out of the booth and stands him up. He speaks to him calmly as he grabs him from behind, tells him what he was doing and uses the Heimlich on him. He hit him three times before that piece of steak came out.”
The whole thing was over in less than a minute. When the waitress returned — having run into the kitchen to seek help — it was clear no one on the staff would have known what to do. “Chris counseled them that as a restaurant, they need to know the Heimlich,” said D’Alessandro.
The couple offered to pay for dinner. Misturak politely declined, “In America, a handshake is thanks enough. So, just shake my hand. I’m just glad I was here.”
Hours later, the two employees still felt the adrenaline rush from that moment when an ordinary day turned into something special. D’Alessandro added: “No doubt Chris saved that man’s life.”