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Veteran saved from choking by senior living community staff member 

Leonard & Manuel

Leonard Gaudio and Manuel Avelar. Courtesy photo.

‘That man saved my life,’ said Leonard Gaudio ‘Had he not rushed in, I would have died’

Creston Village Assisted Living in Paso Robles is one resident richer today thanks to the life-saving efforts of a fast-acting employee.

In late December, a new addition to the Creston Village community named Leonard Gaudio sat down to dinner with his friends as he does nightly. Gaudio is a proud US Army veteran of the Korean War and quickly became a popular gentleman in the community thanks to his warm, gentle personality.

The dining room is the community’s social hub and buzzes with activity during meal times as roughly 50 residents gather to catch up with old friends and make new ones while sharing a meal.

“Dinner that night was one of our residents’ favorite dishes: chicken breast with creamy gravy,” Executive Director Adam Bramwell recalls. “It was a regular Monday night until a few residents at his table noticed Mr. Gaudio was struggling while eating and choking.”

They flagged down the nearest dining staff member, who assessed that Gaudio needed help. They immediately put out a walkie-talkie radio call for clinical support and attempted to do the Heimlich Maneuver on him while he was in a seated position. They were unable to dislodge the obstruction, and Gaudio began to become visibly panicked.

Then, Manuel Avelar came to the rescue. Manuel, a medical tech, is responsible for a hallway of residents and the proper administration of their medications. And like all of the 85 Creston Village employees, he was trained in first aid and CPR upon hire.

“As he ran into the dining room, Gaudio was turning purple and struggling to breathe. The dining room grew quiet, and the other residents looked on with concern. Manuel assisted him to stand and performed abdominal thrusts which dislodged the obstructed food, sending the piece of chicken onto the floor,” shares Adam. “The whole room erupted in clapping and cheers like he had just thrown a game-winning three-point shot at the buzzer… except it was a piece of chewed-up chicken, not a basketball.”

The community is grateful for Manuel’s swift action and awarded him the December Employee of the Month award – not only for this life-saving act – but also for being an outstanding employee with high moral character and a deep devotion to the residents of Creston Village.

Later that week, as Adam sat with Leonard at breakfast, they chatted about the incident. Gaudio said he was “extremely grateful that Manuel was there” and did not mince words when he stated, “That man saved my life. Had he not rushed in, I would have died.”

But as they ate breakfast that morning, the incident, even though only a few days in the past, seemed like old news. Leonard remarked on how much he was enjoying life at Creston Village and stated, “This is the time of life I’ve been looking forward to! I came down and had a hot breakfast – and now I can go back to my room and not have to do the damn dishes! It’s wonderful.”

– Written and submitted by Creston Village


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