Two police constables have been branded heroes after they intervened to save a pedestrian who was choking on a piece of bread.
Adrian Mackay and Michael Farrugia were patrolling the Qormi area when they spotted a crowd surrounding an unconscious man who was struggling to breathe. They instantly sprung into action and both took turns to administer lifesaving CPR until the man coughed up a piece of bread.
“We were at the right place at the right time. These are the times that remind us why we serve as police officers – to be there to help people. It is very satisfying,” said Mackay 40, who has been in the police force for 17 years.
Farrugia, 52, who has served as an officer for 27 years, adds: “It is very rewarding to be able to help.”
The two constables have been working together as partners for 12 years and form part of the police force’s Rapid Intervention Unit, through which they get regular training in first aid.
On Wednesday, at about 1.30pm, they were driving along the streets of Qormi and had arrived near Pavi when they saw a car that had stopped in the road and helped the driver push it to the side.
A few minutes later, when they were still in the area, they noticed a crowd of people had gathered in the car park area where supermarket customers pick up bottled water after their shopping.
“There was a man lying on the ground. Someone had placed him in recovery position. He was unconscious and was struggling to breathe. He was very pale. We ran to him. He had no pulse. We immediately laid him face up and started administering CPR,” said Mackay.
“We took it in turns. Then Michael took over and when he got tired, a warden who had come to help took over. It must have been about six minutes. Then a woman said she could see something in the man’s mouth. It turned out to be a piece of bread. He started breathing, his pulse returned and his colour started coming back.”
'We were at the right place, at the right time'
Meanwhile, an ambulance arrived and Mackay and Farrugia escorted it to the hospital in their police car. They waited outside the emergency department until they were told the man was fine.
The son later reached out to the officers to tell them their father, a 60-year-old, was recovering well thanks to them and had been minutes away from death.
“When I think about it, we were at the right place at the right time. Had we not stopped to help that woman whose car had stopped, we would not have been in the area,” said Mackay.
“We have each other’s back and we know each other’s limits,” says Mackay as he adds: “What people may not realise is that at RIU, we get constant training and have to take a test every four months to remain in the unit. We do not patrol the streets just to catch criminals – we want to avoid crime and help people. Being there to help someone was very rewarding for us.”