MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- The training a Marine received in boot camp helped him save a man's life during the Christmas holiday.
Lance Cpl. Rajiv A. Richardson, a military policeman with Military Police Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, was home on leave when he performed the Heimlich maneuver to save a choking man's life, Dec. 26.
While Richardson and his friends were walking into a restaurant to have dinner, he noticed an elderly man sitting on a bench hunched over gasping for air. Another bystander was patting him on the back in hopes of dislodging the food that
was stuck in the man's airway. As the bystander was assisting the choking man, he told others to call 911.
Richardson knew the man would die if no one performed the Heimlich maneuver. He yelled out to see if anyone knew how to perform the maneuver. After no responses, Richardson jumped into action to save the man's life.
"After I made the decision to help the man, I blocked everything around me out and focused on saving his life," said Richardson, 24, from Miami.
Richardson said he tried to stand the man up, but he was not responsive. So he had two men hold the choking victim up to prevent him from falling forward. Richardson went behind the man and started to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
"I didn't stop until he coughed something up," Richardson said. "I was nervous, but confident when doing it."
After performing the Heimlich maneuver for awhile, the man regurgitated his meal. Richardson leaned him back to see if the airway was clear, but the man was still unresponsive. After seeing that, he continued to perform the procedure.
"I used my first aid training that I received at boot camp," Richardson said. "Without it, I wouldn't have been able to assist in helping the man."
Richardson continued to administer the Heimlich maneuver until the man regurgitated again. This time, it dislodged the food and opened the man's airway. Immediately the man started breathing and stood up to thank the Marine for saving his life.
"Everyone there thought the man was going to choke to death," said Hobert Whitworth, assistant general manager of Miami Ale House. "If it wasn't for the Marine's quick action, the man would have died."
After the man recovered and was walking around, paramedics showed up to the restaurant to assess the choking survivor's situation. They deemed him healthy and told him of the guy who saved his life.
"Lance Cpl. Richardson is an upstanding Marine and citizen," said Pvt. John F. Luna, a military policeman with Military Police Co., 22, from West Point, Miss. "He's always willing to help people regardless of if he knows them or not."
Richardson's initiative and the medical knowledge he received from the Marine Corps saved a man's life. He said he remembered the Heimlich maneuver training in case he would need to perform it on leave, in garrison or while deployed.
"When similar situations like this happen in combat, Marines either freeze or they step up to the plate and save lives," Richardson said. "I had the opportunity to step up and save a man's life."