A Nebraska staff member was part of a dramatic rescue at Plainview Country Club in Plainview, Nebraska on June 27.
Scott Holly, professional golf management internship coordinator at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and Andrew Robertson, a PGM program alumnus and friend of Holly, were at the country club last month for the annual Plainview Open golf tournament. After the tournament concluded, the two were leaving to put their golf clubs in their trucks when they saw something amiss.
“We noticed someone else, neither of us knew, walking in the parking lot and both thought something was off,” Holly said. “About 15 seconds later he started to walk towards us and gestured with his left hand toward his chest a few times.”
“It was clear something was wrong,” Robertson said. “We asked if he was choking and he nodded yes.”
Holly quickly performed the Heimlich Maneuver on him, dislodging the piece of steak that was blocking his airway after a few thrusts.
“The gravity of the situation didn’t sink in until afterwards when he said that he hadn’t taken a breath in nearly a minute,” Holly said.
Robertson pointed out that there was no one else in the parking lot at the time, and that it was a while before they saw anyone else come outside.
“I hate to think what would’ve happened had we not been there,” he said.
The man in question was Jason Norris, a native of Plainview who has been golfing since he was 14. Norris said he had never met Holly personally, but knew of him from tournaments they played in together at the country club.
“He is generally on the leader board and I’m generally not, so that’s maybe the reason we don’t know each other better,” Norris said. “That’s why appreciate it that much more, ‘cause I didn’t really know him but he stepped up in a big way when I absolutely needed it most.”
Norris said that he had been enjoying a steak dinner with some friends when the food initially became stuck in his throat. Not wanting to make a spectacle, he walked away from his group.
“I got to the parking lot and realized I was seriously choking and probably hyperventilating,” Norris said.
“I’m so thankful that [Holly] was there,” he added. “From what I’ve heard, Scott is a great human being and I will try my best to pay it forward whenever I can.”
Many students and graduates from the Nebraska PGM program have been part of the Plainview Country Club family over the years. Tim Knaak, president of the club, wanted to be sure Holly was recognized for his quick thinking and heroic action to aid a member of their community.
“It has been a pleasure for our golf course to host Scott,” he said. “He has been a consummate competitor and professional—and now he gets to add ‘HERO’ to the list.”
For his part, Holly remains humble about the incident.
“I certainly don’t feel heroic, I feel like anyone in that situation would have done the same thing,” he said. “I just happened to be the one that was there.”
The National Safety Council recognizes choking as one of the top four causes of accidental death in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, the universal sign for choking is holding one or both hands on the neck. Additionally, if the choking victim cannot speak or cough, there could be a complete airway obstruction that needs emergency intervention. The ideal place to do the Heimlich maneuver is right above the belly button and just below the chest.