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(CNN) – A Saturday afternoon shift at McDonald’s turned into an act of heroism for a Minnesota teenager.
When 15-year-old Sydney Raley arrived for her Saturday shift at a McDonald’s in Eden Prairie, a few miles south of Minneapolis, she wasn’t expecting to save someone’s life and come off as a hero. Sydney has been working at McDonald’s for about seven months and told CNN this was just another routine weekend shift. “The day had been largely normal: making coffee, preparing drinks. As we entered the lunch rush hour, everything was normal,” he added.RELATED
After handing a customer some of her food at the drive-thru, Sydney went out the window to let her know the rest were on the way. It was then that Sydney noticed that the woman was choking on a chicken nugget.
“She was coughing like crazy, and I noticed she was gagging,” Sydney told CNN. “His daughter was in the passenger seat and she looked very scared. I immediately knew ‘Oh no, she’s drowning.’
Sydney instructed both her manager and the woman’s daughter to call 911 as she quickly jumped out the window to help the woman.
Sydney told CNN that she took a Red Cross babysitting class at age 11, where she learned the Heimlich maneuver, and “all of that training started right away.”
The maneuver didn’t work the first few times Sydney tried it, so she called a passerby near the McDonald’s for help.
“We worked together and were able to successfully get the food out of his throat.” Sydney said.
Finally, the nugget was free and the woman was able to breathe again. Then the woman w as in shock but very grateful to Sydney.
The reward for the young McDonald’s employee
Two officers from the Edina Police Department came to the scene to check on the woman and brought a reward for the teenager.
“They said, ‘Congratulations, you’re a life saver; you’re a hero,'” Sydney said. They gave him $ 100 from a fund they use for people who do good work in the community.
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This was the first time that Sydney had to perform the maneuver, but she knew the seriousness of it and that she must always be prepared.
Around the corner were her parents, Tom and Stephanie, heading to pick her up.
“There was an ambulance and a police car sitting there and I looked at my wife and said, ‘Please tell me that’s not something for Sydney,'” Tom told CNN. “And sure enough, Sydney is sitting outside waiting for us to pick her up and saying, ‘So this is what happened today.’
Tom also told CNN that Sydney was diagnosed with autism when she was younger.
Autism is a spectrum of conditions marked by challenges with communication and social skills. “We always worried that it would be a challenge for her, and she has done a 180 degree turn,” Tom told CNN. “In fact, it has been a blessing and a gift at this time. All the things that we were worried about never happened.”
And your employer also recognizes how important your actions were.
“We are incredibly proud of Sydney and her quick and heroic actions over the weekend to help one of our valued customers,” owner and operator Paul Ostergaard told CNN in a written statement.
“Sydney truly epitomizes what it is to be a hero and we are incredibly fortunate to have her as a highly valued staff member at our Eden Prairie restaurant location. We are excited to see all the well deserved recognition she has received from the community and will continue to celebrate. his valiant efforts to literally jump out the drive-thru window to provide help to a customer in need. “
CNN’s Katherine Dillinger contributed to this story.