A retired nurse's daughters and an Orange County Fire Authority dispatcher were hailed as heroes Monday for saving the woman's life when she began choking.
Janet Williams, who is in her 60s, and her daughters were having hot chocolate in her Laguna Niguel home about 10:30 a.m. Sunday when she had difficulty swallowing a marshmallow and began choking.
One of Williams' daughters called 911, and dispatcher David Paschke calmly talked the sisters through use of the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the candy.
"My mom is choking!" daughter, Gina, said on the frantic 911 call.
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Williams gasped and choked. Her other daughter panicked.
Paschke repeatedly told the sisters to "stay calm."
He talked them through the anti-choking method of grabbing someone from behind and using a fist and jerking upward to dislodge a piece of stuck food in the esophagus.
"I want you to stand behind your mom — wrap around your moms waist," he said.
"Do it now."
Gina performed the Heimlich for at least 45 seconds until she started breathing.
Williams said she feared the worst.
"Like they say, 'your life is flashing in front of you,'" she said. "So much was going through my mind."
She and her daughters were thankful for Paschke.
"The daughter is the hero here," he said. "She did a great job for her mother. She's the one who is the true hero here."
Gina Williams deflected the praise.
"I just know I had to do something," she said. "If it wasn't for the dispatcher I wouldn't have known what to do."
Williams is glad she can enjoy another Christmas with her family.
"I know what Christmas is about," she said. "It's about family and being here together — and being alive."