Corona del Mar Today: Five Crowns waitress saves choking woman

December 18, 2010|By Amy Senk

Melissa Scharfe has been a Five Crowns server for six years, but she's also a full-time student getting ready for medical school — a fact that helped save the life of a woman who began choking during a holiday meal last week.

The incident occurred about 6 p.m. Tuesday when Five Crowns was packed with diners enjoying traditional holiday meals, with decorations, fireplaces and carolers adding to the atmosphere.

Scharfe was working her way through a crowded hallway, a cosmopolitan on a tray in her hands, when she heard a woman in the main dining room scream.


"'She can't breathe! Is there a doctor in the house?'" Scharfe said the woman shouted.

The woman's mother had collapsed, and while Scharfe handed the cocktail to another server to deliver, she made her way to the victim to help.

A manager and another diner helped lift the woman, and the diner tried hitting her on the back. But Scharfe could tell that wasn't helping, so she took over and performed the Heimlich maneuver.

It took three big thrusts to work, she said.

"I felt her lungs fill up, and she could breathe," she said.

An ambulance was called, but the woman declined further medical assistance. Instead, she gathered herself and finished her dinner.

The woman and her family could not be reached for an interview.

Saving lives while waiting tables is a typical part of working in a busy restaurant, especially during the holiday season, Scharfe said.

"People forget to take medication, or they drink too much on their medication, or they don't eat all day and their blood sugar drops," she said. "It does happen every couple days, but we are very professional."

Thinking back, Scharfe laughed at her instinctive behavior.

"I said, 'Take my tray! Take my tray!' " she said. "But then the rest was an instant reaction."


City offices to close over holiday

For the second year, Newport Beach civic buildings, including libraries and the OASIS Senior Center, will be closed Friday through Dec. 31 to save money.

The City Hall complex, libraries, recreation programs and some other city programs are included in the closures. City offices will reopen Jan. 3.

Police, fire and marine operations will not be reduced, and trash collections will be unaffected this year. Parking lots and parking meter collections also will be running as usual, and street sweeping will occur except Friday, Dec. 30 and 31. Park patrol operations also will remain open.


Parking citations in N.B. about to increase

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