A CHOKING man’s life was saved when an off-duty firefighter leapt into action in a Leamington bar.
Wellesbourne-based firefighter Mark Ellis was sitting down to lunch at the Cellar Club when he heard screaming from across the venue.
Bar owner Gareth Dore, who had greeted Mark and wife Sarah on arrival, had begun choking as his family and friends stood around him in panic.
Mark said: “I noticed that Gareth was going a strange colour in the face, unable to breathe or speak and realised he was choking. I quickly jumped over the tables to get to him, as I knew I had to take action and take control of this emergency situation.
“As I got to Gareth, I stood behind him and performed two abdominal thrusts, paused for a couple of seconds followed by two very hard slaps between the shoulder blades. I did this a further three times until a piece of beef became dislodged and he was able to breathe again.”
Gareth explained he had been eating far too quickly, and swallowed a piece of beef without chewing.
He said: “In a very scary moment I realised I could not breathe or even swallow to move a very large, unchewed piece of beef that got lodged in my throat. After a few seconds I jumped off my chair to point towards my mouth to point out I couldn’t breathe to my girlfriend’s family.
“Incredibly quickly, my girlfriend’s dad, Dec, and her uncle, Kier, sprung into action in giving me the Heimlich manoeuvre and slapping my back. I remember thinking, ‘This is it!’, as I looked around to see my girlfriend. Genuinely terrifying!”
While Gareth’s memory of choking is hazy, he remembers being able to breathe again due to Mark’s efforts. But, since a piece of beef was still partially lodged in his throat, paramedics arrived to help fully clear his airway.
The barman added: “The sense of relief and joy was immediate! Although I knew I was in shock, I was just so happy that I could breathe again and just wanted to get back to work. I went back inside to thank Mark for literally saving my life!
“Without his quick thinking and immediate action, I don’t think I’d be here now to write this. Mark went above and beyond, I owe him my life and I will never forget what he did for me, my girlfriend and both our families on that day. He is a friend for life and we should all be so lucky to have such a caring person in this world.”