Silverthorne resident comes to rescue of choking man
August 14, 2018
Ryan and Kim Jenson were visiting from Arvada this past weekend with their children — Dillon is a favorite weekend destination of theirs — and had taken a boat out onto Lake Dillon for the day. That night, around 8 p.m., they decided to pick up some food from a café near the Best Western Ptarmigan Lodge where they were staying.
It was then that the night took a turn. Ryan sat out on the balcony and began digging into his chicken wings, and almost immediately began to choke. As breathing got more difficult, panic set in.
"I thought I was going to die," Jenson said. "I was nervous because my wife didn't know how to do the Heimlich maneuver, and I was really scared that was going to be it for me."
Luckily for Jenson and his family, a certified EMT happened to be in the parking lot.
Fiauke "Frankie" Fiedler and her daughter, 8-year-old Maya, were in Dillon on Sunday to take in a movie on the water at the amphitheater. While Fiedler was unpacking the car for the evening, her daughter noticed the sound of someone choking coming from a nearby balcony and pointed it out.
"Maya heard the noise," Fiedler recalls. "And then I saw the guy on the balcony. I ran across the street to the hotel, told him that I'm an EMT and asked if he needed help."
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Fiedler got her EMT certification at the Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge back when she was trying to get her foot in the door as a nurse. But running up the hotel stairs, all her training began to come back to her.
"It's always a fine line with intervening," said Fiedler. "It's a tricky situation and you can actually make the obstruction worse if you don't know what you're doing. He was able to get a tiny bit of air at first, but then he got to the point he couldn't breathe anymore and I had to intervene."
A neighbor at the hotel called 911 while Fiedler began chest compressions on Jenson. She pumped five times, and for a moment, Jenson could breathe before his airway blocked up again. Two more pumps and relief finally flooded through him. There was still blockage in his throat, but he could breathe again. Professional emergency medical personnel arrived on scene shortly after to transport Jenson to the hospital, where he spent about two hours and eventually threw up the rest of the blockage.
"I thought it was wonderful of her," said Jenson, looking back on the incident. "Not a lot of people want to get involved. Just to have her run over there and offer her assistance was great. I probably owe my life to her, and I'm very grateful she was able to stop and help in that situation."
While most would look upon Fiedler's actions with awe or admiration, she believes it was simply what needed to be done at the moment.
"I don't want to make a big deal of it because that's what you're supposed to do, right?" said Fiedler. "You're supposed to help people. We have an awesome team of EMTs here in Summit County and that's what they do every day. In that situation you're just doing what you need to do."
Still, Fiedler's actions made an impression on members of the community and Dillon Police Chief Mark Heminghous said that Fiedler will be presented with a citizen's award sometime in the near future.
Jenson is no worse for the wear aside from some soreness as the result of the Heimlich maneuver and perhaps an aversion to chicken wings.
"It'll probably be a while before I have any of those again," Jenson joked.
For Jenson and his family, there's plenty to be thankful for.
"I just want to say thank you," said Kim Jenson. "Everybody was so calm and handled the situation so perfectly and seamlessly. I was just amazed by everyone's eagerness to help and to save my husband."