‘I was nearly killed by a bacon sandwich – quick-thinking colleague saved my life’

Marta Berska and Stephen Rickman, who saved her life after she choked on a bacon sandwich. They are pictured outside Bishopstone ward, where it happened, and are wearing masks and standing two metres apart
Marta Berska with her hero, Stephen Rickman

Published on 30 November 2020

What started as an ordinary morning coffee break turned into a life-threatening emergency for hospital worker Marta Berska.

The ward manager’s assistant decided to enjoy a bacon sandwich in the staff room at Bishopstone ward at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate on Wednesday.

But the first bite got lodged in her throat and she found herself choking and unable to breathe.

Thankfully, clinical trauma co-ordinator Stephen Rickman was on hand and performed the Heimlich manoeuvre, clearing her airway and potentially saving her life.

Marta said: “I don’t know what happened but the first bite I took just got stuck in my throat.

“I panicked, and rushed out onto the ward, sounding like an elephant who has eaten chilli sauce.

“Stephen was there, he grabbed me and after hitting me on the back a few times did the Heimlich manoeuvre and it came out.

“It was very frightening, but he was just there and did it without any fuss or bother.”

She bought Stephen a bottle of Champagne as a thank you, but her modest colleague insists he was just doing his job.

He said: “I was taught the Heimlich manoeuvre as part of resuscitation training so I knew what to do, I’ve just never done it before.

“But it was exactly like doing it on the mannequin in training.

“I was just there at the right time and I didn’t really think about it, I just did what we were taught to do.”

Marta added: “Stephen was so professional about the whole thing but if I had been in the office I could have died, because no one would have heard me.

“I’m so thankful he was there when I needed him.”