Senior Center Staff Member Becomes Hero
Elijah Johnson—he is the driver of the City’s senior transport bus—was at the Rose Eldridge Senior Center on February 10, 2020, preparing to go back out on his route when a fellow staff member requested help with a guest who was gasping for air. EJ, as he is known to his friends and coworkers, acted without hesitation, assessing the situation and recognizing that Senior Center guest Darrell Vandebrake was choking on food. EJ administered the Heimlich maneuver, for which he has been trained and takes annual refresher courses in. The food blocking the man’s windpipe was quickly dislodged but when Mr. Vandebrake remained hot and sweaty, Recreation Leader Vanessa Guizar called 911. When paramedics arrived they evaluated Mr. Vandebrake and transported him to Corona Regional Medical Center. EJ’s quick work probably saved the gentleman’s life, or at the very least prevented serious, permanent injury. EJ is known by his coworkers as a very modest, humble individual, so it is no surprise that he has little interest in drawing attention to himself for this effort. Nonetheless, EJ is a genuine hero and a role model for public employees everywhere.