Seaside Heights lifeguard on lunch break saves choking baby
SEASIDE HEIGHTS — Proving that a lifeguard is always on duty, a Seaside Heights rescuer nixed his lunch break on the boardwalk to save a 10-month-old baby choking on a piece of plastic.
Pete LaQuaglia, 20, a five-year lifeguard veteran and Toms River North graduate, heard screams for help coming from the boardwalk just before noon Friday as he and another lifeguard were getting their lunch.
"The lifeguards ran over and they observed a grandmother holding her 10-month-old grandchild who was going limp and someone said he was choking," Seaside Heights Beach Patrol Capt. Jay Boyd said.
Boyd said LaQuaglia's training kicked in and he began administering CPR.
"He performed the Heimlich maneuver on the 10-month-old and dislodged the piece of plastic the child was choking on. By the time first aid came, the baby was breathing normally, was up and alert and actually smiling," Boyd said.
LaQuaglia has a number of ocean rescues to his name, Boyd said, but he has never performed a rescue on the boardwalk before.
Boyd said that the rescue is an example of the fact that lifeguards don't just watch the ocean when they're on the job even during their lunch.
"We've pretty active out on the boardwalk too otherwise we have to wait for Triboro (First Aid Squad) first aid and they may be on another call a fair distance away so we'll listen to the police radio and if we hear a first-aid call anywhere on the boardwalk, we'll render assistance if possible."
The child was checked over by the Triboro First Aid Squad and made a full recovery.
Boyd said that LaQuaglia was so cool under pressure and the entire beach patrol is "so proud of Pete."
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ
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