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Parks and Rec director honored for saving senior

On Jan. 22, during a Town Council meeting at Ledyard Town Hall, Mayor Fred Allyn III honored Scott Johnson Jr. with a commendation for his quick work to save the life of a choking victim, Richard Roy, who was in attendance along with his wife and family.

Johnson, director of the Ledyard Senior Center and Parks & Recreation Department, was on hand for a holiday party in December when he had to use CPR to revive Roy, who had choked on a piece of meat.

“We are fortunate to have some very amazing people that live and work in the Town of Ledyard,” Allyn said. “I honored Scott with a proclamation from the mayor the same night I honored another Ledyard hero in Chief Tony Saccone for delivering a baby!”

Johnson explained that the the senior center’s Christmas luncheon, held Dec. 22, featured a good turnout, with about 40 in attendance. Johnson, along with staffers Laurie Marcotte and Monika Verebelyi, were dressed in holiday costumes when a commotion occurred.

“It definitely was a scary situation,” Johnson said.

Johnson had been sitting next to Roy when he started choking.

“He didn’t give the choking signal so I started asking him if he was okay and if he was choking, but he didn’t respond,” Johnson said. “I started doing the Heimlich and I got a little gasp of air and I stopped because they train you not to do more than you need to because you can break bones.”

Soon after, though, Roy slumped toward his plate, and Johnson caught him.

“He started to change color so I started CPR,” Johnson said. “Many people called 911 and at some point I got put on speakerphone with the 911 dispatcher who had me straddle him and push up into his stomach a few times and then go back to CPR at which point he actually gave a breath.”

Paramedics arrived shortly afterward.

“It felt like hours, but it must have been minutes,” Johnson said. “It was a scary situation that is hard to explain. There is no training that really prepares you for that aspect of things. ... Afterward, I was shaking quite a bit.”

Johnson said the next 24 hours was nerve-racking as he worried about Roy’s condition.

“He is doing fine now,” Johnson said. “He took a few weeks off to recover because a bone was broken during CPR, but he has already returned to the senior center.”

Mayor Allyn was in Florida with his family for Christmas when he received a 911 notification on his phone about someone choking at the senior center. The next 911 text stated that CPR was being performed.

Allyn called Johnson a hero for his quick response.

“Anyone that acts to save another’s life in a time of intense stress is a hero in my mind,” he said. “Scott stepped forward without hesitation to save a stranger’s life. It doesn’t get much better than that!”

Johnson said he does not consider himself a hero. He said he did what he was trained to do. He has regularly taken his First Aid and CPR classes and never really expected to use his training in any dramatic way.

“You never know when this can happen to you too,” he said. “I’m glad that I paid attention in the classes and knew what to do to help.”

Aidan Schuler of Ledyard is a student at the Williams School in New London. He is part of the Times' Young Journalists Initiative.

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