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Heroic officer who saved three people from choking to death

A police chief has been hailed a hero after saving the life of a choking man in a restaurant — the third time he has rescued a choking victim.

District Commander Stephen Martin rushed to help the man, who is in his 20s, after he started choking on a chip at The Exchange in Londonderry city centre.

The young man’s ordeal began during a visit to the restaurant with his mother at lunchtime on Thursday when he accidentally inhaled the food on his first bite.

Restaurant manager Rachel Gannon was alerted to her customer’s trauma when his distraught mother called her over.

She described how she attempted to dislodge the chip from man’s windpipe with the Heimlich manoeuvre but wasn’t strong enough. A doctor nearby also tried to help before Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin stepped in.

“The young fellow’s mother called me over and he was choking,” Ms Gannon said.

“I got him up and started to do the manoeuvre but I wasn’t strong enough. A doctor came over and started slapping him on the back but she wasn’t strong enough either. Then the man, who it turns out was this policeman, came down and managed to do it. He dislodged the food from his throat.”

Mr Martin said he was attending a lunch meeting at the restaurant when the drama unfolded.

“I could see the man was struggling,” he said.

“I offered to try the Heimlich manoeuvre, and luckily on my third attempt the piece of food popped out and the man could breathe again.”

Incredibly, this is the third time the Chief Superintendent has rendered first aid to help people when they choked, having previously helped a diner in a New York restaurant and his own child.

Staff at the restaurant yesterday praised Mr Martin’s actions, branding him a hero for his quick, decisive actions.

The heimlich manoeuvre

A choking victim can't speak or breathe and needs help at once. Here’s what to do — the victim should sit or stand.

1. From behind, wrap your arms around the victim's waist.

2. Make a fist and place thumb side of fist against the victim's upper abdomen, below the ribcage and above the navel.

3. Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into their upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust. Do not squeeze the ribcage; confine the force of the thrust to your hands.

4. Repeat until object is expelled.

l More information at www.heimlichinstitute.com.

Belfast Telegraph