Royal Navy officer honoured after saving life of choking man
A ROYAL Navy officer leapt into action to save a sailor turning blue as he choked on his dinner aboard a £2.5m yacht.
Petty Officer Paul Tock found Keith Topley on the brink of losing consciousness.
Petty Officer Tock performed the first-aid technique known as the Heimlich manoeuvre – a sharp thrusting movement to dislodge an obstruction.
Married dad-of-two Petty Officer Tock, 43, of Brough, said: "I was very relieved when the piece of beef popped out and I heard a sharp rush of air."
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The medical emergency happened at HMS Raleigh, a Royal Navy training facility in Plymouth, where Petty Officer Tock is an instructor.
At the time, Paul had been on duty looking after the Royal Yacht Squadron, one of the world's most prestigious yachting clubs.
"An elderly woman came rushing over to me saying a man was choking to death," he said.
"I ran over to one of the yachts and found a man, who I imagine to have been in his 70s, onboard and slumped in his dinner.
"I quickly checked his airway, which was clear. Then I gave him a series of really quite hard back slaps.
"On the third attempt, a piece of beef fell out of his mouth and he was able to breath once again."
A doctor later told Petty Officer Tock he had probably saved the man's life.
Petty Officer Tock said: "His wife was very emotional, although the man was, understandably, in shock."
After the drama had subsided, Petty Officer Tock returned to a spot of fishing.
"We had been keeping an eye on the group while catching sea bass," he said.
Petty Officer Tock's life-saving actions have earned him a commendation from Rear Admiral Clive Johnstone, Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST).
The citation for the award reads: "Demonstrating extreme calm, utter presence of mind and considerable physical strength, he carried out successfully the Heimlich procedure on the gentleman, who was close to unconsciousness, and consequently most probably saved the gentleman's life."
Petty Officer Tock said his wife Karen, and their children, Lily, 12, and Elliott, nine, are all proud of him.
He said: "Receiving a commendation from FOST kind of makes it all worthwhile, giving me something to look at and read in years to come, and hopefully one day to show the grandchildren."
The Royal Yacht Squadron and Mr Topley have also expressed their gratitude for his organisational skills and quick-thinking.
Mr Topley said: "I am grateful for the opportunity of thanking Petty Officer Tock for his presence of mind and skill in applying the Heimlich manoeuvre to me when I was struck by a violent choking attack.
"I was told by an experienced GP, who was present shortly afterwards, that, but for Petty Officer Tock's speedy action, the consequences might have been much more serious."
Since joining the Royal Navy in 1986, Petty Officer Tock has served on board seven Royal Navy ships, including Hull's adoptive warship HMS Iron Duke in 2008 when Prince William served onboard.
Next month, Petty Officer Tock will be promoted to chief petty officer and assume responsibility of HMS Explorer, a training facility for university students, on Hull Marina.