ALTON - Alton firefighter Aaron Fry is one that performs heroic actions every week in various firefighting and first responder situations, but this week at one of the Alton firehouses, he actually helped save the life of one of his fellow firefighters.

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The story was an odd one as the firehouse group was eating dinner together. Chicken thighs, rice and a vegetable were on the menu that evening for the firefighters and one of the firefighters was enjoying one of the thighs when he began to choke on it.

Fry noticed it was happening and the firefighter in trouble pointed to his throat and was gasping for air.

"I asked are you are OK and he then pointed at his throat," Fry said.

Because of his extensive first responder training, Fry immediately knew what to do and performed a Heimlich maneuver on the firefighter. The man spit out the remainder of the chicken skin of the thigh and those around then realized it was not a joke, but a serious situation.

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The Heimlich maneuver is a first-aid method for choking that can be used for adults or children. It consists of abdominal thrusts under the ribcage to dislodge food. Dr. Henry Heimlich invented the Heimlich maneuver in 1974. He discovered that the remaining air in a person's lungs could be used to free or dislodge a foreign object from a person's esophagus using a series quick, upward thrusts under the ribcage.

The firefighter who was saved, Fry and the other firefighters were very thankful the situation ended on such a positive note. On Wednesday night, May 22, 2024, the firefighters gathered for a dinner to celebrate the heroic action by Fry.

"I have been a firefighter for the last 18 years and I don't ever remember performing the Heimlich maneuver on anyone," Fry said. "It is obvious that it really works. We train to save our own at fires, but this is not something we expect to have to do. It was completely unexpected when he choked on the chicken thigh meat."

Alton Fire Department Battalion Chief Rick Newman said he works with the personnel and said he he sees the skills that the personnel perform each and every day for the community.

"I was very proud of what Fry did under the circumstances to react like that and save someone's life," he added. "His actions certainly saved him. The firefighters in general provide so much value to the community."

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