Heather Toomey was grabbing a quick coffee before class in Southwick Food Court. The next thing she knew, Claire Cedrone was cradling her head, looking down at her, talking softly.
As bad as it was, it was a lucky meeting for Toomey, a 31-year-old accounting major. Cedrone, a cashier and kitchen worker for the food court since September, called upon her medical training to save the young woman’s life.
At about 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 28, Cedrone was working at the coffee counter. She noticed Toomey looking unstable. “She just took a step back and it was not good,” recalls Cedrone. “She just went down.” Toomey’s head struck the hardwood floor with a thud. She was unconscious.
Cedrone sprang into action, feeling for a pulse. She found none. Toomey began to turn bluish-gray. Cedrone administered CPR with a series of compressions to Toomey’s chest. Near the 30th compression, recalls Cedrone, “I heard a gurgling.”
When she awoke after about six minutes, Toomey heard Cedrone’s voice. “She explained what had happened and that they couldn’t find a pulse and that I hadn’t been breathing.”
Emergency medical workers showed up to take Toomey to a local hospital, which she left a few hours later.
“I think I was just dehydrated, and fighting off a cold” she says. “I felt sick, and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor. But this was out of the blue completely.”
Cedrone was the right person to be working nearby.
A former medical assistant who worked in a physician’s office and at Emerson Hospital, she brushed off heroism.
“Two co-workers helped me keep her comfortable, and it really was a group effort.”
But Toomey, who returned after the incident, her head still sore, to hug and thank Cedrone, knows better.
“Oh, my God, thank God she was there. I don’t know what would have happened.”