Islander Mary Abarbanel left an island hardware store late last year and on her way out, she picked up a complimentary sweet treat. Then she got into her car and began to drive away.
That’s when she started choking.
Abarbanel was not able to breathe. She looked around for help, and luckily, her salvation was right there in front of her.
“This car pulls in and this lady starts laying on the horn,” said Nick Allen. “We realized that she wasn’t in the best of health.”
Allen, 16, is a Boy Scout with the island’s Troop 1565. The troop had been hanging out in the hardware store parking lot, selling Christmas trees for its annual fundraiser.
Having been a Girl Scout herself in her youth, Abarbanel knew that the Scouts were trained in first aid.
That’s when Allen stepped up.
“I realized she was choking and I have had first-aid training,” Allen said. “I did a Heimlich maneuver.”
Allen’s training was more than sufficient. It only took one try and he was able to clear Abarbanel’s airway.
Word of Allen’s actions and clear thinking made its way through ranks of the Boy Scouts. He was soon nominated for a national Boy Scouts of America Heroism Award.
On Thursday, Nov. 8, he was presented the award at a ceremony at the Bethany Lutheran Church. The event drew a crowd of Scout officials and local politicians such as Bainbridge Mayor Debbi Lester, Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder and state Rep. Sherry Appleton.
“It was a bit overwhelming, I’ve never been that popular before,” Allen said.
“I just tried to be polite and courteous. It was a lot of fun,” he said.
Allen accepted his award with a smile and made a speech. Luckily, with the help of the Scouts, he is proficient in public speaking in addition to first aid.
“I probably wouldn’t have known how to do that without the Boy Scouts,” he said. “The leadership ability and skills have been invaluable.”
This year, starting on Friday, Nov. 23, the Boy Scouts will be back at work with their annual fundraiser selling Christmas trees near the corner of High School Road and Highway 305. It’s perhaps the safest place to buy a tree on Bainbridge Island.