SOMERS, N.Y. – A 2014 Somers High School graduate is being hailed as a lifesaver after he performed the Heimlich maneuver on a coworker in peril, dislodging a piece of meat that was trapped in his windpipe.

William McDermott, a legal intern at Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker in White Plains, was enjoying a company barbecue when a coworker seated nearby began to choke.

At first, McDermott was unsure of what was happening, though he knew the coworker was experiencing some sort of medical emergency.

Sign Up for E-News

“I didn’t know he was choking,” he said. “I thought maybe he was having a heart attack.”

Once it dawned on McDermott that his coworker was indeed choking, the former lifeguard sprang into action and immediately began to perform the Heimlich maneuver.

“Without a second of hesitation, I got behind him and gave him three [abdominal] thrusts and a piece of steak came flying out,” he said.

The man thanked McDermott and credited him with saving his life. McDermott said the whole ordeal took place in a matter of seconds, and nobody else at the company realized what was happening until it was over.

Though he has never actually used the Heimlich maneuver before, McDermott knew that training from his days as a lifeguard would suffice. With time of the essence, he did not have the opportunity to take a survey of the company.

“I knew I had to do something,” he said. “I looked around for a split second. I didn’t even think about it. Whether I was capable of doing it or not, I knew essentially what to do and could not wait around.”

McDermott is the son of Town Justice Michael J. McDermott. He is currently a student at Siena College.