Jordan Villar-Cayabyab has had limited first-aid training, but his experience as an ROTC cadet prepared him to take charge of the situation when he saw a man choking in the restaurant where he works.
On Feb. 18, Villar-Cayabyab was working behind the counter at the Suisun Seafood Center in Suisun City in Solano County when he saw people trying to help an older man who was choking. Although Villar-Cayabyab said he had not been trained in the Heimlich maneuver, he had seen it performed on television, most recently in the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire.” He quickly went to the man’s aid, performed the maneuver and was credited with saving the man’s life. His actions were captured on the restaurant’s surveillance video.
On Friday, Villar-Cayabyab was presented with the Air Force ROTC Silver Valor Award during an ROTC awards ceremony at California State University, Sacramento. The second-highest ROTC honor, the award is approved by ROTC national headquarters.
In a telephone interview following the ceremony, Villar-Cayabyab, 20, said he is majoring in business at Solano Community College, which does not have an ROTC program. Sacramento State’s ROTC attachment is the closest to his hometown of Fairfield. He hopes in a couple of years to be commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.
Villar-Cayabyab said he was “humbled and proud” to be able to represent his ROTC attachment in providing life-saving assistance. He noted that he wasn’t initially scheduled to work that day. He hasn’t seen the man he aided since then, but his manager has told him the man has recovered and is doing OK.
Villar-Cayabyab said he would urge people not to hesitate to step in and help someone in an emergency. His advice: “Practice good situation awareness and respond accordingly.”