During a wedding at Fox Hill Inn on a Saturday in August, two members of the wait staff came to the aid of a guest in distress and saved the wedding and a life.
Shortly after dinner was served, Charles Williams, 60, of Southington, began choking. "The meals came and the band was already playing and the music was so loud," his wife, Kathleen said, "He hit me three times in the arm and had this wild look on his face."
Kathleen tried to get the attention of the others at the table, but no one could hear her. Finally, she began to make the international choking sign (two hands on the throat) and the table began to scramble. Section manager Patty Neal-Petrillo and her daughter Samantha Petrillo, also a waiter at Fox Hill, came to the rescue.
"Right after we had served dinner, as I was watering, I noticed that Mr. Williams looked like he was coughing, but he was choking," Neal-Petrillo, who has CPR and Heimlich training from her days as a dance team coach in New Fairfield, said. Patty performed the Heimlich while Samantha, who is training for her EMT certification, assisted.
After two good pulls, a large piece of meat was dislodged from Charles' throat. He was shaken, but after a cup of tea and some rest, he was otherwise fine.
"I am so very thankful that Patty and Samantha were skilled in that maneuver – they saved my husband's life that night," Kathleen said, "They were so calm and focused when they did it and did a great job."
"It all happened in a matter of moments. It was not even think, just do," Neal-Petrillo said, adding that it was the first time she's had to use her Heimlich skills.
"They were so wonderful afterwards," Kathleen said, "They were all very gracious and very quiet about it all," not making a disruptive scene.
"The function did not skip a beat," Neal-Petrillo said.
The bride, the Williams' niece, didn't even know anything had happened until later in the evening, when the Petrillos were asked to stand up and be recognized.
All of the management staff at Fox Hill Inn was recently trained in CPR, according to manager of operations Patty Finnegan-DiPreta, however none of the wait staff has undergone official training.
The Brookfield Police Department will be honoring the Petrillos' quick action at a future date with a certificate of recognition.