Staffer saves legislator from choking on Assembly floor

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Assemb. Annette Robinson at a news conference in

Assemb. Annette Robinson at a news conference in Manhattan on Jan. 25, 2004. Robinson was choking when Assembly staff member Bakary Janneh jumped in to administer the Heimlich maneuver on June 2, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Julia Gaines

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ALBANY -- In a Capitol where actions often follow a carefully prepared script, real drama broke out recently.

On June 2, Assemb. Annette M. Robinson (D-Brooklyn) was at her desk in the busy and cavernous Assembly chamber, munching on melon in the tradition of members snacking during debates because of missed meals during the long, late-session days of June.

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Then she started choking.

Assemb. Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo) quickly tried to help her free the obstruction, but it didn't budge.

In jumped Assembly staff member Bakary Janneh, who works for the Senate majority counsel's office and lives in the Albany area, to administer the Heimlich maneuver.

"This young man jumped in and succeeded and fortunately for that, Ms. Robinson is here with us," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a brief, but emotional, recognition before the start of Wednesday's proceedings. "Your calm, swift action prevented an accident from becoming a tragedy."

"I was in the right place at the right time," Janneh said after receiving two standing ovations from the full Assembly. He thanked the Albany Fire Department for his training a year ago. This was the first time he had to use it.

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