An employee saves the life of a suffocating customer at the Rockaway sandwich shop

According to authorities and a dramatic video inside the store, a sandwich shop employee saved the life of a suffocating woman Friday afternoon in Rockaway.

Danielle Buccelli, 21, used the Heimlich maneuver when she realized that a customer had choked on Primo Hoagies at lunchtime.

“Right now, with adrenaline, I just wasn’t thinking,” she said in an interview. “I just did it.”

Buccelli, a resident of Randolph, learned the Heimlich maneuver during CPR training she received as a teenager.

Her father joined the Randolph Township fire department after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, so Buccelli said she grew up with rescuers with her fist and joined the fire department when she was 16. There, she had to undergo recertification in the field of cardiopulmonary resuscitation every two years.

So when a woman whom authorities did not identify began to choke on her sandwich, Buccelli said she was prepared.

“I ran behind the counter and did the Heimlich maneuver,” Buccelli said, repeating to herself, “You were prepared for this moment. Now you must do what you have been trained to do.

Buccelli said she works at Primo Hoagies about 40 hours five or six days a week. She added that it was “around, a really cool place to work”.

Primo Hoagies corporate office said the company donated $ 1,000 to Buccelli to save a woman’s life on Friday. She plans to either save money or spend it on a wedding next fall.

“Danielle was a fantastic employee from the very beginning,” said Vinny DeRose, CEO of Rockaway. “(She) always looked after everyone who came and was just extremely hardworking.”

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Camille Furst can be reached on cfurst@njadvancemedia.com. Find her on Twitter @CamilleFurst.

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