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Needham Responders Save Little Girl From Choking

The quick reactions of two Needham firefighters and a police officer may have prevented an incident from turning tragic.

A Needham toddler who began choking on a doughnut last week received some life-saving assistance from a couple of Needham firefighters and a police officer after they just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Needham Firefighters Gerard Hopkins and Dave Duffy were working detail along with Needham Police Officer Jim Benedict at the site of a building demolition on Deerfield Road last Wednesday, Sept. 26, when a little girl that was playing with other children nearby began choking.

“All of a sudden we heard some guy screaming, ‘Help! Help my daughter!’ We looked over and she appeared to be choking,” Hopkins said.

Duffy reached the girl first and together with Hopkins tried to help her dislodge the piece of doughnut she had been eating, but they were unsuccessful.

“I ended up just taking her and putting her over my arm and gave her about 10 [back blows] or so,” Hopkins said. “I flipped her over and she was still purple, not breathing, so I went to get her down on the ground in case we had to do CPR on her, and when I put her down, she started to spit up, and we just rolled her up on her side, hit her a couple more times, and out it came.”

“She took a big breath and looked up at me and was like, ‘Ah!’ She started crying, and her color came right back,” he added.

The offending object was a Munchkin doughnut hole, Hopkins said.

“I’m just glad we were there, because it would have been another couple of minutes for an ambulance to get there, and who knows what would have happened,” he said.

An ambulance did arrive on scene, and paramedics checked out the little girl, who appeared to be otherwise uninjured from the incident, Hopkins said.

Needham Town Manager Kate Fitzpatrick acknowledged the three responders’ heroics at a selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday evening, thanking them for reacting quickly and preventing what could have been a tragedy.

The girl and her family, too, were appreciative.

 “The mother came up this morning [Wednesday, Oct. 3] and brought us brownies and cookies and a picture of the girl and some artwork she made,” Hopkins said.

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