Broward Health North nurse thankful for co-worker who saved him from choking

DEERFIELD BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Two South Florida nurses who have worked together for years now share an unbreakable bond after one saved the other from choking.

Registered nurse Jefferson Dias had the opportunity to thank colleague and fellow frontline worker Gina Storrings outside Broward Health North in Deerfield Beach, Monday.

“Thank you for allowing me to be here today. I appreciate that. Come here,” said Dias as he reached over and hugged Storrings.

Dias discussed his frightening near death experience on March 17.

“There was no air flow going through, pretty scary moments that become eye-opening and give you a little more gratefulness of life,” he said.

Dias is grateful for Storrings, also a registered nurse, for rushing to his aid.

He said it happened while he was eating lunch inside the staff lounge.

“I had some leftovers — rice, beans, steak — and it just so happened, having a conversation with two other co-workers. I got a little distracted and started choking,” he said.

“When I walked into the break room, immediately my eyes caught to Jeff,” she said. “I just noticed right away that he was in distress … there was something off about him.”

Outside the hospital on Monday, the nurses recreated what happened next.

“I walked up to him, and he was over the sink, and I was like, ‘Hey, you need some help,’ you know, trying to help him out,” said Storrings.

Storrings said she saw her colleague go limp, and he was on the brink of losing consciousness.

“Without even thinking — I don’t even know, I don’t even remember; it all was a blur — and I just went behind him, and I just gave a couple of blows,” she said.

Storrings administered the Heimlich maneuver, giving Dias several abdominal thrusts.

“So I just — the last one, I was, with all my strength, I just took one, and I [thrust] deep up like this, and he just started coughing, and he threw up something,” she said.

The morsel Dias was choking on came out, and he was immediately able to talk and breathe.

“It was the scariest moment of my life. I never thought I would do that,” said Storrings. “I thought maybe I would be doing CPR outside, saving a stranger’s life, but I never thought it would be one of my friends and co-workers.”

“Gina, I feel like I am here today because of your quick actions,” said Dias, “and that was an experience that you and I will have for the rest of our lives.”

The two of them were already friends, but they said this experience has connected them forever.

“We save lives daily here in the emergency room, but to think that it can happen to one of us,” said Dias.

Dias and Storrings stressed how important it is for everyone to know the Heimlich maneuver and CPR. They recommend taking a refresher course or learning online.

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