In December, a woman at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Eden Prairie near Minneapolis began choking on a chicken nugget. Sydney Raley, an exceptionally quick-witted 15-year-old employee, jumped out of the drive-thru window to offer help, telling the woman’s daughter to dial 911. Raley got the woman out of the car and performed the Heimlich maneuver, enlisting a passerby to help her. They managed to dislodge the nugget, saving the woman’s life.
It looks like a scene from a teenage Christmas movie, but it really happened. And every entrepreneur, CEO and team leader can learn a lot from this incident.
1. Good customer service makes all the difference.
Things could have turned out very differently, except for one small thing. After Raley handed the customer part of her order, she poked her head out the drive-thru window to explain that the rest would be arriving shortly. Without this simple gesture of courtesy and good service, Raley wouldn’t have known so quickly that the woman was in distress and perhaps wouldn’t have saved her.
2. Training saves lives.
How did a teenager know exactly what to do in a life-threatening emergency? Because she was trained to know. Four years ago, at age 11, she had taken a Red Cross babysitting course and “all of that training started immediately,” she said.
This raises a few questions. Do you know the Heimlich maneuver? Your employees? What about CPR? Do you and them know what to do in case of fire or flood? Raley’s story demonstrates how even a brief training session can turn you and your employees into a very valuable resource in an emergency. It is worth the time and effort to complete this training for them, for yourself and maybe for your family as well. If you happen to choke on something or have a heart event, you might be very glad you did.
3. We are not all the same, and that’s good.
When emergency responders arrived at the scene, they gave Raley an unexpected gift: $ 100 from a special fund that they use to reward citizens who do good in the community. She told CNN that it made her feel like she was able to contribute to society and “really make a difference.”
Why would she doubt that she could contribute to society? Raley is on the autism spectrum. When she was first diagnosed, her parents feared it would delay her in life. It turned out to be the opposite, they said.
There is a growing audience of Inc.com readers who receive a daily text from me with a micro challenge or idea of ââself-care or motivation. Often they text me back and we end up in a conversation. (Interested in joining? You can learn more here.) They tell me that people who seem limited in one way or another can often surprise you with their resourcefulness and abilities.
Raley’s father told CNN that being on the autism spectrum was the reason she remembered her Red Cross training so well. “She has a gift because she has autism,” he said. “She can remember anything, do anything.” Looks like he’s right about it. I wonder what she’s going to do next.