Saving a Life – All Part of a Day’s Work

By Lystine Cush

What began as a typical day on the job proved anything but for Raul Figueroa, a Mechanic based in the Worcester Fleet Shop the past 23 years of his 31 years with the company. On Thursday, May 7th, Raul was dispatched to the Monson, MA yard to complete repairs on a vehicle. Arriving at the location he usually works out of, he made his rounds to greet everyone, including O&M worker, Ryan Gaudrault.

About 10-15 minutes into his morning, while alone in the main garage working on a truck, Raul glanced up to see Ryan racing towards him red-faced, drooling and frantically waving his hands.

Raul, instantly realizing Ryan was choking, sprang from the truck without a second thought and began to perform the Heimlich Maneuver. “I am sorry I forgot about social distancing, but I had to act quickly.”

With Ryan frustrated and panicked, it took Raul several attempts to properly position him to perform the procedure. After finally dislodging what was in his throat, Raul guided Ryan to the floor to allow him time to recover from the trauma he’d just endured.

Once composed, Ryan began thanking Raul profusely. As news of the what happened spread, Ryan’s father, North Hampton Fleet Tech, Wayne Gaudrault received word and immediately called Raul to express gratitude for saving his son’s life.

Raul is no stranger to acting quickly to save the life of a choking victim because he has had the terrifying experience of doing so. “I have never seen anyone in that condition before, that far along. With my daughter, it came out easy and grandson, the same, it came out the first time. I am just happy Ryan is alive.”

“I am very proud and thankful Raul was there in the nick of time to help another person,” said Ken Gurney, Supervisor, Fleet Services, Western Massachusetts.

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Well Done Raul and quick reflex on identifying whats happened and what should be done. Great effort in saving a colleague. Salute to you.

Deb Symons-Coleman

As Ahammed said, awesome situational awareness by Raul to identify what was happening. Years ago, a group of us witnessed a coworker choking on food but she kept pointing at her lunch. It took a little while for someone in the group to realize that it wasn’t something wrong with the food that we were all staring with but the fact that part of it was lodged in her throat choking her! There was a good outcome that time as well but it was very scary for a few minutes.


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