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Employee on Sanibel receives Civilian Life Saving Award

By TIFFANY REPECKI / trepecki@breezenewspapers.com - | May 4, 2021

TIFFANY REPECKI Sanibel Fire and Rescue District Assistant Administrator Samantha Quinn, left, with 400 Rabbits server Lisa Bettenhausen, who was presented with the Civilian Life Saving Award, Award of Excellence.

An island worker was recently recognized for saving a customer’s life with her quick actions.

On April 28, 400 Rabbits server Lisa Bettenhausen was presented the Civilian Life Saving Award, Award of Excellence, by the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District. During a short ceremony, she was given the award “In recognition of your life saving efforts. Your willingness to help saved another’s life.”

“Lisa went above and beyond, displayed courage and bravery with her quick response, and because of that saved a life,” Fire Chief William “Bill” Briscoe said. “We are proud to acknowledge citizens of our community in heroic situations such as this. This award is a small reminder that her actions made a difference and she should never forget how important that is.”

On April 12 at about 7 p.m., the district responded to a choking incident at the Sanibel restaurant, at 975 Rabbit Road. Prior to the arrival of the responding crew, Bettenhausen began the Heimlich maneuver on the customer and was able to clear the airway of the woman, according to fire officials.

Bettenhausen, who has her RN license, explained that her instincts just kicked in.

“I just kind of pulled her out of the booth and started the Heimlich. I knew what I was doing,” she said, explaining that the customer was conscious, but she could not breathe. “She couldn’t get a breath.”

Bettenhausen said it took at least “three, good solid thrusts” to clear the blockage.

With the woman breathing again, what had just transpired hit home.

“The emotions of, ‘I just saved her,'” she said.

Bettenhausen noted that her mother is a nurse.

“I was super excited about it,” she said of how proud her mother would be of her.

When the fire crew arrived, it did a thorough evaluation of the customer and found her to be OK.

Bettenhausen was shocked when she was presented with the award.

“It’s very thoughtful and it’s pretty amazing. It makes me feel good,” she said. “I’m shocked for sure, surprised. It’s neat.”

Assistant Administrator Samantha Quinn explained that Capt. Chris Jackson was on the responding shift. He advised Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Barbot about the incident and was thrilled that Bettenhausen was able to property administer the Heimlich maneuver. He suggested honoring her with the award.

“She was able to dislodge what was stuck in the airway and that’s what saved the individual’s life,” Quinn said.

Fire officials noted the importance of citizens learning basic emergency skills.

“CPR training is vital in saving lives in our community,” Briscoe said. “We highly encourage all individuals be involved in CPR training.”

The Sanibel fire district offers American Heart Association CPR courses. The course cost is $20 to cover the card issued. For more information, including availability, visit www.SanibelFire.com.