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Off-duty Kansas City, Missouri, firefighter performs Heimlich at Nationals game

KCFD Captain Todd Covington
Nationals Baseball Stadium
Posted at 11:04 AM, May 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-25 16:42:55-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An off-duty Kansas City, Missouri, firefighter who was attending a Washington Nationals game Wednesday night helped save the life of one man at the game.

According to an account by Grant Paulsen, a radio host in Washington, D.C., Nationals fan started screaming for help when a man began choking during a game against the San Diego Padres .

The firefighter, Todd Covington, a KCFD battalion chief who works in the aircraft rescue and firefighting division up at KCI and downtown Kansas City, sprung into action, performing the Heimlich maneuver on the man who was choking. It took around 20 seconds for the object to come out.

Covington, who was in D.C. to meet with Congressman Sam Graves, described the experience to Paulsen, saying he was watching the baseball game and didn't know what was going on until he heard the screaming. Then, he jumped a couple rows of seats and went to work.

"I just bent him over, gave him a couple back blows," Covington said, describing the process to Paulsen. "A lot of times with adults, we get enthralled with what we're doing, it just a quick aspiration."

Before he performed the Heimlich, Covington told NBC News that he whispered to the man's ear if he was choking and the man nodded to him.

The Heimlich maneuver is a life-saving technique that uses abdominal thrusts to clear a person's airway.

To perform the technique, you wraps your arms around a person, making a fist with one hand and clasping it with the other. You then place your fists between the person's rib cage and belly button and thrust your hands into their abdomen until the object is freed.

This isn't the first time someone had to perform the Heimlich maneuver during a Nationals game.

Back in 2021, then-Nationals pitcher Joe Ross's father, who was a doctor, helped save the life of woman using the maneuver during a Nationals game in San Francisco.

Fans cheered Covington after the life-saving efforts, with Paulsen asking fans to buy him beers for the rest of game.

Even his own superiors at KCFD were happy to have seen him save another person life 1,054 miles away.

"(KCFD are) public servants, it doesn't matter if we're on the clock or not, we're gonna do what needs to be done," said KCFD interim chief Ross Grundyson, "You don't turn it off when that what you do for a living."

For Covington, it was just another day.

"We're just chalking another one up for the good guys," he said smiling.