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Sheriff’s Citizen Corps volunteer uses training to save a life during lunch

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Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Citizen Corps volunteer Norah Sliger put her emergency response team training to the ultimate test over the weekend. She performed abdominal thrusts to save the life of a woman who was actively choking on a piece of food at a neighboring table while having lunch at a local restaurant on Sunday afternoon.

Sliger and Citizen Corps Program Coordinator Betsy Hambleton had spent the morning at the County’s Regional Emergency Operations Center helping with the launch of the new Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District and decided to go out for lunch afterwards. About midway through their meal, they observed a potential medical problem emerging with a fellow diner at a nearby table.

“At first we weren’t sure what was going on with the woman,” Hambleton said. “It almost looked like a mild seizure. Then Norah and I realized the woman was choking on a piece of food obstructing her airway.”

Sliger then noticed the woman’s lips began turning blue and immediately began performing abdominal thrusts.

“After the first two attempts to dislodge the obstruction yielded no results, Norah made a third attempt and it successfully dislodged the food,” Hambleton said. “Norah remained absolutely calm throughout the entire event – and I believe she singlehandedly saved this woman’s life.”

Hambleton said she and Sliger offered to call 911 but the woman said she felt that she would be okay without additional treatment. Hambleton and Sliger stayed with the women until they felt she was doing well on her own.

After expressing her sincere appreciation, the woman left the restaurant.

Hambleton says that if Sliger had not put her training into immediate action, the situation could very easily have ended in tragedy.

Approximately 500 volunteers currently serve in the Sheriff’s Office Citizen Corps. The Corps consists of five teams: Sheriff’s Mobile Auxiliary Response Team, Citizens Homeland Security Council, Community Emergency Response Team, Animal Rescue Team and Law Enforcement Chaplain.

During the 2009-2010 fiscal year; Citizen Corps volunteers donated over 15,000 hours of service to their community, saving the Sheriff’s Office hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff time.

In 2010, FEMA recognized the achievements of Washoe County’s Citizen Corps by awarding them the National Citizen Corps Achievement Awards– Outstanding Citizen Corps Council Award for a council serving a population under 750,000.

For more information about the Washoe County Citizen Corps, visit www.wcsovolunteer.org.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office celebrated 150 years of proud service and community partnership in 2011. Sheriff Michael Haley is the 25th person elected to serve as the Sheriff of Washoe County. His office continues to be the only full service public safety agency operating within northern Nevada and is responsible for operating the consolidated detention facility, regional crime lab, Northern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center, Internet Crimes against Children Task Force, court security, service of civil process, traditional street patrols and Regional Animal Services.

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