With a handshake and a sincere thank you, Bristol Mayor Art Ward handed out awards Tuesday to the people credited with saving his life when he choked in December.
Ward was at a UConn tailgating party at the Italian Social Club in Bristol on Dec. 4 when he began to choke on a piece of meat that was lodged in his throat.
Dale Grande, a friend and former corrections officer, was by his side and responded.
“I asked him if he was OK, and he shook his head and said 'No.' I knew something was wrong, so I said, 'OK, I’m going to give you the Heimlich maneuver.' I started giving him the Heimlich maneuver and he passed out,” Grande said.
Grande called for help and Tim Callanan, an off-duty firefighter, and Chris Porrini, an off-duty State Trooper, came to the rescue.
“I did a little mouth to mouth, try to get some air in him. Chris was doing the compressions and we continued that until Bristol PD got there,” said Callanan, who works for the Bristol Fire Department.
“It’s just what I signed up for. It was something we had to do. It’s something that comes natural. We just went to work and did it,” Porrini said.
“You’re watching him laying there and you’re not sure how bad he is, and we were just praying that he was going to be OK,” Grande said.
Thanks to their quick actions, and the help of the first responders on the scene, Mayor Ward is OK. He spent several weeks recovering, but is now back to work at Bristol City Hall.
He said he owes that to the people who kept him alive.
“It’s a moving experience, it really was, and when I think about it, again I think about what they did and what my family went through, it’s moving, it really is,” Ward said.