As he jumped out of his squad car and bounded toward the door of a Medford home where a woman was reportedly choking, Suffolk Police Officer Bryan Mastrangelo heard screaming: “Come in! Please help!”
Mastrangelo, who has been on the force five years, found hysterical family members inside the Eagle Avenue house pleading for assistance Saturday night.
In a bedroom, a 35-year-old woman was kneeling over a wastebasket, trying to “cough-out” a pepper that had lodged in her throat, he said.
The woman, whose name was not released by authorities, was struggling to breathe, police said. Her family had tried to do abdominal thrusts to no avail and called 911 at 9:16 p.m., police said.
Mastrangelo, a trained emergency medical technician and a member of the department’s Medical Crisis Action Team, began performing the Heimlich maneuver on the woman.
After about six stomach thrusts, he said, the pepper — part of a meal of sausage and peppers — popped out.
“I was just happy to see that it was out, that she was breathing,” said Mastrangelo in a telephone interview Sunday afternoon, during which he recounted the dramatic incident.
Mastrangelo had been with another officer responding to a domestic disturbance in Farmingville when the call came over the radio.
With his emergency medical training — he’s a volunteer with the Saville Ambulance Corps — he sped to the Medford choking call, arriving first on the scene.
The woman, and her family — including a very young son who asked Mastrangelo, “Is mommy OK?” — were very thankful, he said.
But, Mastrangelo quipped: “I was not offered any sausage and peppers.”
Deputy Police Commissioner Tim Sini declared Mastrangelo “a true hero.”
“This is the type of work that the department is out there doing every day,” Sini said. “We love to see our calls end this way — when we can save a life.”
With the pepper out, the woman was able to breathe normally. She was escorted to an ambulance outside her home, but refused further medical assistance — including going to the hospital, according to police.
Mastrangelo, a 17-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, said helping the choking woman left him with a “good feeling.”
“It’s always better to save a life than to arrest someone.”