Jarrett Jobe, legislative liaison saves choking man
Jarrett Jobe speaks to Samantha Davidson Guinn in the Oklahoma State Capitol cafe on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. (Tres Savage)

When Jarrett Jobe was studying first aid techniques for his assistant instructor scuba diving certification, he anticipated he might one day have to use the training to help a fellow diver during an emergency. But when a crisis situation unfolded Feb. 13 at Charleston’s restaurant in Bricktown, he employed his life-saving skills above water.

After a man burst through a set of doors into the area where he was eating, Jobe realized the man was choking and sprung into action.

“It looked like he was getting a little purple in the face, and I asked him if he was OK. He said, ‘No’ and pointed to his throat and chest, and you could tell he couldn’t talk,” Jobe said, recalling the event days later. “He wasn’t able to breathe or communicate, so I realized that he was in trouble,” Jobe said. “And so, I tried to act as quickly as I could to make sure to try to unobstruct the airway.”

Jobe performed the Heimlich maneuver on the man “to try to unobscruct the airway.”

“It took probably about four or five actually full compressions of the Heimlich maneuver, and about the fifth one, he said he was OK, and we got it dislodged,” Jobe said.

The choking man, who spoke with NonDoc but asked not to be named, had been at a business dinner in the back room of Charleston’s when he realized he was choking. He left the room so he would not interrupt the meeting, but he quickly realized the severity of the situation.

“It was so scary,” the man said. “Thank God for the gentleman. I’m not kidding, I was blue in the face.”

The man said the restaurant’s steak was not the issue. It “just got stuck” as he was eating.

“I felt it the next morning, for sure,” the man said. “My ribs did not feel great. But, honest to God, he saved my life.”

The man finished his meal and meeting at Charleston’s after the episode and said no one else in his party had even realized what happened.

“They had no idea,” the man said.

Witness: Jarrett Jobe ‘didn’t hesitate’ to act

Jobe had gone to Charleston’s after a day at the Oklahoma State Capitol, where he spends much of his time working with lawmakers as the vice chancellor for government relations for the State Regents for Higher Education.

Two others who spend much of their time at the Capitol witnessed the event: a husband-and-wife couple who work at separate consulting firms.

Samantha Davidson Guinn, principal and general counsel at the Oklahoma office of Cornerstone Government Affairs, called Jobe a “local hero.”

“Jarrett just stood right up and didn’t hesitate,” she said. “He immediately started doing the Heimlich and saved the guy’s life probably.”

Guinn was eating at Charleston’s with her husband, Spencer, who is the founding partner of Guinn Strategies, a government relations consulting firm.

Spencer Guinn also praised Jobe, calling him a “fine American.”

“I told my wife — I joked afterward — I said, ‘I want to make sure we eat wherever Jarrett and his wife are just in case going forward,'” he said.

Jobe, for his part, said he was just glad he knew how to help.

“You train a lot and hope you don’t have to use it, but in the moment you hope that you’re able to respond to help somebody if they need it,” Jobe said.

Jobe encouraged anyone working in a community setting to take first-aid classes with organizations such as the Red Cross or the American Heart Association.

“I think it’s good to have people that know how to help a neighbor in need — or something comes to pass and you know you have some training and ability to help that person out,” Jobe said. “It’s not the environment that I’m usually using that [skill], but the fact that it can be used for other situations is important and became valuable for Tuesday night.”

Out of appreciation for his actions, Charleston’s gave Jobe his meal for free that night.

“It was a good gesture on their part,” Jobe said of Charleston’s management.

The man who choked said the “coolest” part about the story happened the next day. Although he does not spend much time around the Oklahoma Legislature, he had an appointment that took him to the building where Jobe spends much of his time.

“I’m walking up to the Capitol, and the gentleman’s right there,” the man said. “He walked by, and he’s like, ‘Dude.’ I’m like, ‘Hey, man. Dude, this is crazy.’ He’s like, ‘Are you OK?’ I’m like, ‘I’m great, man. Thank you so much.’ I gave him a big hug and just walked off. Small world, for sure.”