Waiter hailed a hero for saving choking diner's life in Bispham cafe

A waiter has been hailed a hero after he leapt into action when a customer began choking on her food.

Saturday, 12th June 2021, 9:22 am

Cobi Barber, 22, has been working as a waiter at Maddisons Cafe Bar in Red Bank Road, Bispham since graduating from drama school last year.

The aspiring actor, whose mum and uncle own the venue, performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on a stricken woman on Tuesday.

A fellow diner said he was sure the woman “would have died” had it not been for Cobi’s bravery and quick-thinking.

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Cobi Barber, 22, saved a customer's life this week when he performed a Heimlich manoeuvre while she was choking. Picture: Kelvin Stuttard/JPI Media
Cobi Barber, 22, saved a customer's life this week when he performed a Heimlich manoeuvre while she was choking. Picture: Kelvin Stuttard/JPI Media

He said: “We heard shouting and realised a woman was choking on her food. She went blue and she couldn’t breathe.

“Her husband was panicking and others were shouting but this lad just calmly stopped what he was doing, picked her up and put his arms around her, and asked everyone if he was in the right position.

“Then he gave her the Heimlich manoeuvre. The food went flying out and she instantly regained the colour in her face.

“He just carried on working as if nothing had happened. I was so impressed with him. If it wasn’t for him, I feel sure she would have died.”

Cobi Barber, 22, pictured with mum Lisa who co-owns Maddisons cafe bar, saved a customer's life this week when he performed a Heimlich manoeuvre while she was choking. Picture: Kelvin Stuttard/JPI Media

The mystery woman vanished with a thank you – and £10 tip – although Cobi played down his efforts, saying he did “what anyone would do.”

He said: “I was clearing tables outside and I walked in and heard someone say someone needs to ring an ambulance. I went over to see what was going on and someone told me this customer needed the Heimlich manoeuvre.

“So I went to her and asked other people if my arms were in the right place because I didn’t want to hurt her or cause any more harm.

“She was struggling for breath. It sounded like the air was escaping through a pinprick or something. But I did it twice and the food dislodged. I didn’t know if it had worked at first. I waited for a minute and then she started calming down. I left her with another member of staff when I knew she was okay while I went to settle others in the cafe down because we were full at the time.”

Despite having no formal adult first aid training, Cobi was trained in paediatric first aid for a previous job with youngsters, which he credited for his instinct to run to the aid of the woman.

He continued: “I don’t think anyone can prepare you for that really, and I wasn’t thinking of the consequences at the time.”