Off-Duty First Responders Help Save Man Choking In New Jersey Restaurant

Some off-duty first responders were in the right place at the right time when a man started choking on his dinner at a New Jersey restaurant. They did what they do best; they saved him; CBS2's Christina Fan reports.

Video Transcript

DANA TYLER: Some off-duty first responders who were in the right place, a New Jersey restaurant, at the right time, when a man started choking on his dinner. They did what they do best, saved him. CBS 2's Christina Fan has more.

CHRISTINA FAN: Like many EMTs, Amber Henderson knows saving lives is much more than a job. When the off-duty member of the Elizabeth Fire Department saw a man choking on his dinner inside the waiting room Monday, her instincts kicked in.

AMBER HENDERSON: In the middle of me doing the Heimlich, I dislodged a small piece of the steak it was that he was eating, but he was still evidently choking.

CHRISTINA FAN: Luckily for the man, the Rahway restaurant was teeming with off-duty first responders. Henderson heard a Rahway cop yell out for help. and then she felt a nudge from behind.

AMBER HENDERSON: And I turn around, and it's actually one of my coworkers, Justin McGee.

JUSTIN MCGEE: I just kind of tapped on the shoulder, and said, hey, what are you doing here.

AMBER HENDERSON: And I'm like what are you doing here? Help me.

CHRISTINA FAN: Justin McGee and Henderson are both EMTs with Elizabeth Fire. Not only were they both coincidentally there, but McGee was having dinner with four other EMS workers.

JUSTIN MCGEE: This is an airway. It opens up his airway.

CHRISTINA FAN: Together they took turns trying to dislodge the food in the choking diner's mouth using equipment from the Rahway Fire Department.

JUSTIN MCGEE: We lowered the gentleman on to the ground, and we began compressions on him when he lost consciousness.

CHRISTINA FAN: The actions of the off-duty EMTs and officer proved to be lifesaving. With the ambulances in town tied up on other calls, it took about 15 minutes for a first aid squad to arrive from the next town over.

AMBER HENDERSON: I'm lucky. He's lucky. We're all lucky that we were all kind of in that one space together.

CHRISTINA FAN: Luck may have played a part in it, but when duty called these heroes answered. In Rahway, New Jersey, Christina Fan, "CBS 2 News".

DANA TYLER: And the man is still recovering in the intensive care unit of a hospital, but he is expected to make a full recovery.