Mr O’Neill was doing the shopping for his wife and son about 7.15pm last Sunday when he heard a commotion behind him.
A woman came running down the aisle and yelled ‘help, help my daughter’s choking’.
Mr O’Neill said he dropped his milk and baby food and ran to the part of the store where the child’s father was holding his daughter upside down and shaking her.
‘I remembered performing CPR at school, so I stuck my finger down her throat to dislodge her tongue and then lay her on the checkout counter and started resuscitation, with five quick breaths,’ Mr O’Neill said.
‘It all came back to me as I was performing the CPR, though I had not used it since we learnt it at school.’ After a few moments he said life flickered back into the little girl’s eyes and her breathing returned.
He continued with CPR until an ambulance arrived about 10 minutes later.
She was taken to hospital and released the next morning with a clean bill of health.
Mr O’Neill said he was very much a reluctant hero. ‘The father gave me a big hug and when they took her to hospital alive, that was more than enough thanks for me,’ the property and building maintenance manager said.
High Wycombe IGA manager Norm Bownrig said he had been inundated with requests for interviews from radio and television stations following Tuesday’s incident.
‘I’m a bit sick of it to be honest,’ he said. ‘We just want to get back to work.’