BASKING RIDGE, NJ - Fellowship Village Senior Living Chef Maxan Joudain received the "Stellar Story of the Year" award for his heroic action in saving a life when he performed the abdominal thrust to dislodge food from the choking resident. 

He was finishing up dinner service in his household when he noticed a skilled nursing resident choking on a piece of food and flailing her arms. Without hesitation, he jumped into action and kneeled behind her wheelchair to hold it steady and quickly performed the abdominal thrust to dislodge the food. "She was cleared and able to breathe," said Fellowship Village President and CEO Brian Lawrence. "He saved her life." 

Joudain credits Andrea Lieberman, Director of Team Enrichment, for teaching him this life saving technique. Joudain had received first aid training in abdominal thrust (also known as the Heimlich Maneuver) just a week before his life saving act. "I say thank you to Andrea," he said when receiving his award. He said he immediately remembered his training and wouldn't have had the confidence to jump in to save her without the training. "I came in and did the same thing she showed me and that's why I saved her life," said Joudain.

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Lieberman is responsible for training the entire culinary team and residential staff. The medical committee, which consists of independent living residents, had a concern because choking is prevalent in the senior population. They wanted everybody on the campus to be trained in abdominal thrust for adults, said Lieberman. 

Joudain has worked at Fellowship Village Senior Living for 13 years. He said this was the first time he has saved someone's life. "It was a good day to help someone like that," he said. And as a bonus, when Joudain's son saw the certificate proudly displayed on their refrigerator at home, he said, "Daddy, you are my hero."

"There were several nominees for the Stellar Story of the Year and the award is given to the person that stood out and benefits our residents," said Lawrence.

Fellowship Village Senior Living is located at 8000 Fellowship Road in Basking Ridge. To learn more, visit their website at