MONTCLAIR, NJ - Fire Official John Thomas, of the Montclair Fire Department was awarded The Lifesaving Award of Merit by the American Red Cross on Wednesday, August 24 for his swift action that led to saving a life while off-duty. 

While driving home from work on July 5, Thomas observed the driver of the car behind him acting erratically and exit the vehicle. He got out of his car to assist the driver in distress and noticed that the man was turning blue, and Thomas realized that he was choking on something. 

Thomas then performed the Heimlich maneuver until the object dislodged. 

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According to the ARC, the Lifesaving Award of Merit is the highest award given by the American Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Health and Safety Services course.

The certificate is signed by the President of the United States, who is the honorary chairman of the American Red Cross, and the Chairman of the American Red Cross.

Thomas was awarded a citation, medallion and lapel pin.

Thomas has been a Red Cross volunteer for over 25 years.  He started as a disaster responder and has progressed through the positions of disaster manager, and Essex County Supervisor.  He is currently an instructor of disaster related courses for the Red Cross.