Officer David Dirienzo was on patrol at approximately 7:15 p.m. on Christmas Day in Cortlandt, when he spotted a vehicle driving erratically on Route 6 near the Cortlandt Town Center, prompting him to conduct a traffic stop.
When Dirienzo approached the vehicle, he found that the driver was gagging, red-faced and unable to speak. After asking if he was choking, Dirienzo pulled the 48-year-old man from the vehicle and performed the Heimlich maneuver, dislodging an object that was blocking his airway after several thrusts. The man quickly resumed breathing normally almost immediately.
Dirienzo proceeded to call an ambulance as a precaution and the man was evaluated by paramedics from the Lake Mohegan Fire Department before declining further medical attention.
Police said that the man had been driving to his daughter’s home in Mohegan Lake when he began choking. His plan was to get to the Town Center and try to dislodge the object himself. Dirienzo has been nominated for the Westchester County Police Department’s Life Saving Award, Commissioner George Longworth noted.
“It is very fortunate that Officer Dirienzo was present to provide immediate assistance,” Longworth said. “When someone is choking, every second counts.”
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