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Salish waitress maneuvers for third Heimlich save

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SNOQUALMIE - Everyone could do with an angel in the attic.

The Salish Lodge got theirs five years ago. That's when waitress Margi Powers started serving at the Attic Restaurant inside the resort. Since then, Powers has saved the lives of three diners by using the Heimlich maneuver.

Her most recent rescue was made about a month ago when a diner choked on a sandwich.

Powers learned the Heimlich 10 years ago when she lived on Snoqualmie Pass. She said the ski area offered a lot of first aid classes, so she took one. Two years later she took the class again at the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital as part of a program for new mothers. Somehow over the years, the maneuver has stuck with her.

"You have to get them up and bend them over," said Powers, who added the maneuver isn't very difficult to perform, it's just a matter of getting a person who is gripping the table up out of their chair.

"I said, 'You have to stand up.' And then you wrap your arms around the front of them, bend them over and push on their stomach," Powers said.

This movement makes the person breath out before they breath in, dispelling the food from their throat.

"It's not pretty," Powers said.

The chokers usually go back to eating their meal after thanking Powers.

"They're mostly embarrassed because of making a scene, but they're very thankful afterwards," Powers said.

Though three incidents in the last five years sounds like a lot, it actually isn't considering that tens of thousands of diners eat at the Attic each year. The Salish Lodge is one of the top tourist attractions in the state of Washington.

The incident last month happened at a table of elderly women. Powers said the accidents usually happen when people try to talk too much while they're eating. Laughing and eating too fast are also culprits.

"They call me the Salish hero, I guess," Powers said, reluctant to repeat the epithet.

The North Bend woman doesn't make too big of a deal of her life-saving talents.

"You just see someone needs help and you just do it. I don't know where that comes from."

The Attic's manager, Matt Wallace, said he's very glad to have Powers on staff.

"There's no hesitation, she's quick to respond," he said. "Everyone runs to get me, but she just acts. If it wasn't for her, who knows."

Staff Writer Melissa Kruse can be contacted at (425) 888-2311 or by e-mail at melissa.kruse@valleyrecord.com.

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