Rapid response saves Orting woman’s life, earns Tacoma Comcast tech hero recognition

It wasn’t the way Jim Shipley expected his day to go, and it was complete fate that brought him and an Orting woman together in a life-changing moment.

Shipley, a Tacoma resident and 16-year veteran technician for Comcast, was on his lunch break at an Asian buffet restaurant in Auburn one day last July.

The lunch was a special occasion, a celebratory farewell marking a co-worker’s promotion, with other co-workers converging at the site from different locations.

“We don’t normally go there,” he told The News Tribune, “It was actually kind of busy, and we second-guessed it and just decided to go.”

Not long after arriving, they heard a commotion, and saw 70-year-old Eva Buhl of Orting begin to choke and have trouble breathing.

Shipley quickly crossed the room to help. All Buhl could think about was possibly dying.

“You’re just thinking about your life, that you might be going ... you’re just thinking, ‘I’m not ready to go yet,” she recalled. “But yeah, you’re thinking about dying, seriously.”

“He just stepped right in like he was doing his job,” Buhl told The News Tribune.

Shipley performed the Heimlich maneuver, helping her to quickly recover. Soon after, she reportedly asked him if he was a paramedic.

“No, I work for Comcast, but we’ve had quite a bit of training,” he told her.

“He’d had the training at Comcast,” she told The News Tribune. “We need to bring more of this to people’s attention so that everybody gets trained and gets trained regularly.”

He downplays the moment.

“You’re trained to remain calm. ... It was pretty much give her the Heimlich maneuver and go eat lunch,” he said.

Buhl later got in touch with his supervisor to tell him the story.

In her email, she wrote: “I just thought you should know that the CPR training you gave him paid off big time,” Buhl said. “He knew just how to perform the maneuver, and he deserves some recognition of some kind.”

Shipley so far has been honored at Comcast’s 2020 Washington state annual meeting and will be one of the recipients of the local Red Cross Chapter’s Heroes of the Year for 2020, set for 7:30 a.m. March 26 at Embassy Suites by Hilton in Seattle.

He remains modest about his efforts.

“I know anybody in my group probably could have done the same thing. ... It felt really good I knew what to do,” Shipley said.

Buhl is ready to remind others and reinforce the importance of that moment.

“It means everything, I wouldn’t be here, I’m telling you,” Buhl said.

“He’s one of the good guys.”