WHITE PLAINS – A Westchester County Police officer who saved a man from choking on Christmas Day is being nominated for the department’s Life Saving Award.
Office David Dirienzo saw a vehicle driving erratically on Route 6 near the Cortlandt Town Center. He turned on his red lights and siren and pulled the vehicle over as it entered the shopping center.
When Dirienzo approached the car, he saw the driver was gagging, red-faced and unable to speak. He asked the driver if he was choking and the man nodded that he was. At that point, the officer pulled the 48-year-old man from the car and administered the Heimlich maneuver and after several thrusts, an object blocking the man’s airway was expelled. The man began to breathe normally almost immediately.
Dirienzo called for an ambulance as a precaution. The man was evaluated by EMS personnel and declined further medical attention.
The motorist told Dirienzo he was driving to his daughter’s home in Mohegan Lake when he began to choke. He said he was trying to get to the Town Center to pull over and try to dislodge the item on his own.
“It is very fortunate that Officer Dirienzo was present to provide immediate assistance,” said County Police Commissioner George Longworth. “When someone is choking, every second counts.”