The Heroic Way A McDonald's Employee Might Have Saved A Customer's Life

Sydney Raley is used to thinking fast when filling orders during the lunch rush at McDonald's in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The 15-year-old fast-food worker can multitask between taking orders, mixing drinks, and working the drive-thru window, but she never thought she'd be moving quickly to save a customer's life.

Her Saturday afternoon shift started normally, with Sydney working the drive-thru window. She diligently handed out orders when she noticed that a customer in her car seemed to be in distress. In an interview with CNN, Sydney said, "She was coughing like crazy, and I noticed she was gagging. Her daughter was in the passenger seat, and she looked so freaked out. I immediately knew, 'Oh, no, she's choking.'" The teen jumped out of the drive-thru window, got the customer out of the car, directed her daughter to call 911, and performed the Heimlich maneuver.

When the maneuver didn't work after the first few attempts, Sydney called a bystander over to assist her, and they were able to dislodge the chicken nugget from the woman's throat. When the police arrived, the customer was breathing freely and very thankful for the fast-acting teen who saved her life.

Raley remembered her first aid training and saved a choking customer

Sydney Raley took a Red Cross first aid training class when she was 11 in preparations to become a babysitter (per NBC News). Little did she know how essential that knowledge would become four years later when she used the Heimlich maneuver to save a woman's life at a McDonald's drive-thru.

Sydney's parents beamed with pride as they recounted their daughter's bravery and quick thinking. Impressed by her ability to recall her first aid training, her father said, "I always tell her she has a gift because she's autistic. She can remember anything, do anything." The police, her McDonald's co-workers, and the greater community praised Sydney for her heroic actions. Her manager Paul Ostergaard said, "We are excited to see all of the well-deserved recognition she has received from the community and will continue to celebrate her courageous efforts of literally jumping out of the drive-thru window to provide aid to a customer in need."

Second to saving a life, perhaps the most important takeaway from that eventful weekend shift at McDonald's is what Sydney learned about herself. She is proud of herself and said that she now feels like she's "capable of making a difference" in society. All in a day's work.