Staff Member at Boca Raton Regional Hospital Saves Visitor with Heimlich Maneuver

Melissa “Missy” Williams is being hailed a hero by colleagues for springing into action to save a person from choking. It happened in the cafeteria at Boca Raton Regional Hospital. Williams, an anesthesia technician at the Hospital, was checking her phone while waiting for a friend. Suddenly, she heard a loud banging coming from the table behind her.

“When she turned around and saw a woman was choking, Missy jumped right in and started the Heimlich maneuver,” said Angela Pasceri, RN, Nurse Manager in Interventional Radiology at Boca Regional, who witnessed the scene.

Williams remained calm and continued to perform the Heimlich, eventually dislodging a piece of food that had blocked the visitor’s airway. Relieved, the woman gave a “thumbs up” to signal she was okay and thanked Williams for saving her, which prompted a robust round of applause in the cafeteria.

“It all felt like a movie, as if I were watching myself,” said Williams, recalling the crucial moments. “That was actually my first time ever performing the Heimlich maneuver.”

While those who witnessed the event call her a hero, Williams insists she doesn’t deserve the praise. “I really don’t consider myself a hero. I was just there at the right time to do my part.”

Still, Hospital administrators stressed the significance of Williams’s actions and emphasized the fact that proper training can save lives.

“We are extremely proud of Missy, for her quick thinking and reaction,” said Maria Dulaney, RN, Executive Director of Perioperative/Endo Services at Boca Regional. “This event also serves as a real reminder of just how important it is for all of us — not just nurses and doctors — to learn and know how to properly perform lifesaving techniques such as the Heimlich maneuver and CPR.”

Named after the late surgeon Henry Heimlich, the lifesaving maneuver is performed by forming a fist above the choking person’s naval, then placing your other hand over the fist and thrusting your hands upward.

About Boca Raton Regional Hospital – Advancing the boundaries of medicine.

Boca Raton Regional Hospital is an advanced, tertiary medical center ( with 400 beds and more than 800 primary and specialty physicians on staff. The Hospital is a recognized leader in oncology, cardiovascular disease and surgery, minimally invasive surgery, orthopedics, women’s health, emergency medicine and the neurosciences, all of which offer state-of-the-art diagnostic and imaging capabilities. The Hospital is a designated Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).

Boca Raton Regional Hospital is the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence™ for the 10th year in a row and was named one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, both by Healthgrades®. Boca Raton Regional Hospital was also recognized for the third consecutive year in U.S. News & World Report’s 2013–2014 Best Hospitals listing as a top-ranked hospital in the South Florida metropolitan area.

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