Caught on camera: Off-duty trooper saves choking man - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Caught on camera: Off-duty trooper saves choking man

Buffalo Wild Wings offered the trooper a year’s worth of free wings, but he declined. (Source: New Jersey State Police/CNN) Buffalo Wild Wings offered the trooper a year’s worth of free wings, but he declined. (Source: New Jersey State Police/CNN)

ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP, NJ (WPIX/CNN) – When seconds mattered, an off-duty New Jersey state trooper reacted immediately, performed the Heimlich maneuver and saved a choking man’s life.

Trooper Dennis Palaia was enjoying a quiet Sunday with his 6-year-old son at Buffalo Wild Wings when he noticed something wrong at a table behind him.

A customer, later identified as Todd Hendricks, was in distress and began showing signs that he couldn’t breathe.

“It sounded like a cough, but it was a little different. So, I recognized that it was different, and within a minute or less, I turned around and realized the guy behind me was completely red in the face,” Palaia said.

Hendricks was choking on a grilled chicken tender, so Palaia quickly wrapped his arms around the man’s waist and performed the Heimlich maneuver. Surveillance video captured the incident.

“It took five thrusts, and I’ve never had to do it before. It was a little nerve-wracking, but on the fifth one… I could feel him start to breathe again,” Palaia said.

Palaia’s actions had prevented tragedy by clearing Hendricks’ airway, which allowed him to breathe normally again. His skin tone also returned to its natural color.

Besides a sore throat and aching ribs, Hendricks made a full recovery.

Manager K.D. Murphy, who was behind the bar at the time and rushed to keep Hendricks calm, says he’s thankful for Palaia.

“Having that officer, off-duty, just step up and do his civil duty and what he signed up for to save someone’s life was amazing,” Murphy said.

Palaia says he isn’t a hero, and he’s just happy he was in the right place at the right time and had CPR training.

“I really thought he was going to go down, and I was nervous. Thinking about it afterward, you start running through what if you didn’t get it out, what would you do then? I would do it again in a heartbeat, of course,” Palaia said.

Buffalo Wild Wings offered Palaia a year’s worth of free wings, but he declined the offer because he is a public servant.

Copyright 2017 WPIX, New Jersey State Police via CNN. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly