SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Scotch Plains police officer Gerard Rites is being praised for his quick thinking and reaction to help save to life of a man who began to choke on a piece of meat at the EEF fundraising dinner recently.

Rites noticed that the man could not breathe, performed the Heimlich maneuver, and saved Dominick Giordano's life. The grateful Giordano wrote a letter to Scotch Plains Police Chief Ted Conley to commend officer Rites for his life-saving actions. 

"I'm very proud of Officer Rites. It's always great to get a letter like this from a member of the public," Chief Conley said in a phone interview with TAPintoSPF.

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The text of the letter follows:

Dear Scotch Plains Police Chief Conley,

I hope that this letter finds you well. My name is Dominick Giordano. I am writing to let you know about an incredible act of heroism by one of your police officers, Gerard Rites, who I am forever grateful to for saving my life this past weekend.

On Friday evening, I attended a beefsteak dinner fundraiser for the Education Enrichment Foundation of Scotch Plains-Fanwood and began to choke on a piece of meat during dinner. My airway was completely blocked. At that moment, I was completely helpless and incapable of taking in even the smallest amount of air as a piece of meat was lodged in my throat.

Fortunately, I could stand up and motion that I needed help. Gerard, who was sitting a few seats over from me, at my table immediately came to me and knew that I was choking. Gerard quickly turned me around and performed the Heimlich maneuver. Gerard’s quick efforts were lifesaving, resulting in the food becoming dislodged and my airway being reopened. Gerard Rites saved my life and his actions should be recognized as such and as heroic. Not a single moment has gone by since Gerard helped me that I have not thought about how lucky I was that he was there and responded to me so quickly.

My letter is not just to inform you but also to let you know how thankful I am for what Gerard did to help/save me. Gerard is a true public servant and many of our distinguished citizens in Scotch Plains government and the school board witnessed his heroic act. I hope that you and the Scotch Plains Police Department will acknowledge Gerard for his heroism and I would be more than happy to further share my experience at any time with you and/or anyone else that should know about Gerard’s lifesaving heroic act.

Dominick Giordano

Scotch Plains

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