By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- Close to the end of her busy Sunday afternoon at Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & amp; Bar, Heather McMillin heard someone yell, "Please help us."
She ran over to the table where an older woman sat in a booth, choking on her food.
"I reached down -- she was still in the booth -- and just did the Heimlich maneuver," said McMillin, of Howland, who managed to dislodge the food.
Rural/Metro Ambulance personnel arrived and checked the woman. They determined that the 26-year-old waitress's actions may have saved the woman's life.
Award: For her heroics, the ambulance company was to present McMillin with a plaque at the restaurant today.
"By the time I got there, Heather had already stepped up and handled the situation," said John F. Yedlicka Jr., kitchen manager.
He described McMillin, who has worked at the restaurant about 11 months, as an employee he'd like to clone.
"Ever have someone that you'd just like to have a thousand of them?" Yedlicka said. "I know her customers will be taken care of."
McMillin learned the maneuver while she was a student at Mathews High School in Vienna, but the April 29 episode marked the first time she's used her first-aid skills.
"I hope it's the last time," she said. "I don't want to do that again."
McMillin doesn't know the woman she helped, and the ambulance company declined to release her name, citing patient confidentiality laws.
"They thanked me at the table and then told the manager to thank me as they were leaving," McMillin said.
McMillin then waited on a few more tables before winding up her shift and going home that day.
Honor from work: "My co-workers were very impressed that I knew the Heimlich Maneuver, and I got a Wow Award," she said.
Applebee's presents employees who do something out of the ordinary with a 'Wow' emblem to wear on their name badges.
"Those are very difficult to come by," Yedlicka said. "It's for people who go one step further. We know that the only thing that makes us different from other restaurants is the people inside these four walls. The employees are the ones who make customers' experiences better by taking care of them."
"I don't expect to be thanked," McMillin said. "All I wanted to do was help someone. Instincts took over. I didn't really have a choice."