Heimlich hero saves a life

A light lunch almost turned into a last meal for Donald Robinson, on Tuesday. "I sat down and was enjoying my lunch and all of a sudden I took a bite; I didn't chew it good enough and it got stuck in the middle of my throat," he said.

A light lunch almost turned into a last meal for Donald Robinson, on Tuesday.

“I sat down and was enjoying my lunch and all of a sudden I took a bite; I didn’t chew it good enough and it got stuck in the middle of my throat,” he said. He tried to wash it down with a sip of water but he couldn’t swallow, and that’s when he knew he was choking.

Luckily his son-in-law, Jordon VanderMeer, noticed what was happening and sprang into action.

“It happened so quick, half of us at the table didn’t even know what was going on,” said Donald’s daughter Trinda Robinson. “All I really remember is my dad pointing at his throat and that’s when VanderMeer jumped right up and started doing the Heimlich.”

Donald said that without VanderMeer’s quick thinking, he’d probably be “on the floor dead.”

But VanderMeer said he wasn’t thinking at all when he did it.

“It just sort of happened,” he said.

If he had thought about it, VanderMeer said he probably would have hesitated.

Though trained in first aid, he’s never had to put it into practice.

“I never even had to wrap up a finger,” he said.

But when he saw his father-in-law struggling to breathe, the training kicked in.

He jumped up, pushed passed his uncle and grabbed his father-in-law from behind.

It took a couple tries to get everything out.

It happened so fast there was no chance to call for an ambulance or even a waitress.

“I was like, running around the whole freaking restaurant trying to find a waitress so that I can get somebody to help my dad but there’s only so much you can so in so little time,” said Trinda.

Afterwards, Donald spent a few minutes throwing up, which is a common side effect of receiving the Heimlich.

They tried to take him to the hospital but he refused to go.

It was a terrifying experience, said Donald.

“I’m just very thankful that he was there,” he said. “(VanderMeer) kind of really saved my life there.

“I guess his first aid course really paid off.”

And that experience has got Trinda thinking about renewing her own first aid certificate. It’s something she plans to do as soon as they get back to Beaver Creek.

“I’m going to do that next week,” she said.

Contact Josh Kerr at


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