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Heimlich Maneuver Helps Save MTSU Employee’s Life

MTSU’s Ben Jones never expected his CPR training years ago would ever have to be put to use. He probably never thought he would have to try to save someone’s life during his lunch hour, either.

Christi Farris and a registrar’s office co-worker were eating lunch on June 5 in the Cope Administration Building break room when a Cheetos bite became lodged in Farris’ windpipe.

“I was eating, laughing and talking, something my mother (Mildred Farris) tells me not to do,” Christi Farris said.

Farris and her colleague stood up simultaneously.

Jones, an assistant director in Accounting Services who was mentoring former MTSU student Tyree Rumph at the time, also was in the room.

Jones stood up. So did Rumph.

“I said, ‘Do you need me to help you,’” Jones, who had CPR training as part of a first-aid class, recalled of the moment. “She motioned that she needed help.”

In the right place at the right time, Jones began implementing the Heimlich maneuver.

“I thought she was going to be OK,” Jones said, “but shesaid she was not getting any air.”

“This was my first time to be choked like that, so I was kind of panicky,” Farris said on June 6, exactly 24 hours after the snack food became lodged. “He was good. He did it lightly at first. Then he got a little harder each time.”

After four tries, “I coughed up the Cheetos (bite) into my hand,” she added. “Ben knew exactly what to do. I appreciate him being there. He did ask if he could do it.”

She added that she “may not be eating any more of them for awhile.”

“I’ve seen Christi for years, walking in the hallways and in the break room,” Jones said. “This campus is a family. When it gets down to it, you need to prepare. It wasn’t me anyway. I give the credit to the Lord.”

Jones added that something as simple as his lunch hour being shifted in recent weeks led to the miracle.

“The fact that I was over there was kind of set up a few weeks back,” he said. “I’m just humbled to be a part of a good thing.”

Jones is married to Helen Yuan, assistant director in the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Planning and Research, and currently on maternity leave. They are parents of 3 1/2 -year-old Kai and 3-month-old Luke.

And if anyone offers Farris a bite of Cheetos, she said she “is not eating any more of them for a while.”