Imagine, you're sitting enjoying a great meal at a Jersey restaurant and the guy at the next table starts to choke. That's what happened to an off-duty cop recently.

Rahway Police Officer Eddie O'Donnell looked up from his meal at the "Waiting Room" restaurant in Rahway to see another off-duty first responder, Amber Henderson from Elizabeth, administering the Heimlich maneuver to a diner who was choking on a piece of steak. He immediately rushed over to help.

Turns out there were several other first responders dining in the restaurant who joined in to help. It was a battle and although the steak wasn't removed until the victim was transported in the ambulance, he's alive today because these brave first responders acted quickly.

With their techniques and equipment, they were essentially breathing for the man, according to a detailed report in the Daily Voice.

Here's an excerpt that captures the intensity of what happened:

As fate would have it, several other off-duty medics were also at the restaurant, and they rushed over to help. Those include Peter Dudek (JFK EMS EMT), Elizabeth Buckridee (JFK EMS Paramedic), Jacob Kay (JFK EMS EMT) and Andrew Buchanan (former JFK EMS Paramedic, current South Metro Colorado Fire Fighter Paramedic).

Each EMT took turns doing the Heimlich and trying to dislodge the chunk of food for what O'Donnell said felt like eternity.

"The [victim] started getting weak in the legs and was falling, and the Heimlich doesn't work unless you're standing," said O'Donnell, a 20-year veteran of his department. "We realized CPR would have to get started."

One medic ran to their car to get some equipment, including a suction machine. Others began utilizing the AED supplied by the restaurant.

The first responders also were provided with a pulse oximeter to monitor the victim's oxygen levels.

"Within a very short amount of time, on-duty officers started showing up," the officer said.

The off-duty responders used equipment from on-duty firefighters to maintain the man's condition, Henderson said.

"We were breathing for him and suctioning whatever food we could get out." - Cecilia Levine

Thanks to Officer Eddie O'Donnell and the EMTs, Firefighters and other off duty paramedics who all worked as a team to prevent an accident from becoming a tragedy.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.

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