Venta Butibamba in La Cala de Mijas. / ñito salas

Two Mijas police officers help save life of a man who was choking at a restaurant in the town

They had stopped for breakfast before going on duty and had just taken a sip of their coffee when they realised another customer at Venta La Butibamba couldn’t breathe


They had a busy day ahead of them and stopped off at Venta La Butibamba in La Cala de Mijas for breakfast.¡, but Alex Hemmi and Juan Ruiz, two officers with the Mijas Local Police force, had hardly taken a sip of their coffee when they realised that another customer had begun to choke. “He had his hands at his neck and couldn’t breathe,” they told SUR after the incident.

The 29-year-old had a piece of food stuck in his throat, and the officers rushed to help. They performed the Heimlich manoeuvre to shift the blockage and clear his airway.

This happened last Sunday, 16 October, around 9am. It was unusual for the police officers to stop for breakfast but they were due to accompany the Santa Teresa ‘romería’, or pilgrimage, which was taking place for the first time since the pandemic began, and wouldn’t have the chance to eat again until much later.

It was lucky they had made that decision, for the customer who was choking. Within a few seconds of them coming to his aid he could breathe again but had not managed to remove the piece of food from his throat. The officers encouraged him to try to cough, but he couldn’t. They called an ambulance and remained with him until it arrived, in case the situation got worse.

Fortunately, Hemmi said, police officers are given courses on health emergencies and how to deal with them. “Just a short while ago we had a refresher course, so it was lucky that we happened to be here,” he said.

The patient remained stable and was taken by the ambulance to the Costa del Sol hospital in Marbella to have the blockage removed.