By Jennifer Costa, Regional Communications Director, Red Cross Northern new England
Jeff Maitland is a huge baseball fan – and the Boston Red Sox are undoubtedly his team. It was May 25th. The Red Sox were playing the Atlanta Braves. Jeff had whipped up some stuffed potato skins and invited a friend over to catch the game. A few bites in, he noticed his friend was in serious trouble.
“After his third one, he suddenly jumped up from the couch and was coughing and struggling to breathe. He gave me the ‘choking’ sign,” recalled Jeff. “I jumped up, got behind him, wrapped my arms around him and just started pulling in short bursts. Mind you, he is 6’5” to my 5’11”. I pulled so hard I literally lifted him off the ground!”
After the third abdominal thrust the potato skin popped out.
“I was scared to death,” said Jeff, “I thought my friend was going to die right in front of me!”
Thanks to Jeff’s quick thinking and lifesaving actions, his friend was just fine. He credits this save to skills he learned as a teenager at an American Red Cross lifeguarding course offered at the Lakeland YMCA in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey.
“Although it’s been 44 years since my Red Cross training, I didn’t even have to think about it,” said Jeff. “As soon as I realized that my friend was in distress, I suddenly found myself off the couch and behind him performing the Heimlich maneuver. Thank goodness the obstruction came out and all turned out well.”
Mary Daley, who works as a Digital Marketing Specialist for the Red Cross in Training Services, learned of her friend’s story and knew it needed to be recognized.
“Jeff’s actions exemplify two things needed to help a person in an emergency: skill and will. He had the skills, he had the will to act on them and he saved his friend’s life when there was no one else in that room who could do it,” she said, “I am so proud to be able to nominate an old friend – and a new hero – for this award.”
This month the American Red Cross awarded Jeff Maitland, of Augusta, Maine, a Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action for his selfless and humane actions on May 25, 2021, by using lifesaving skills to rescue a friend in need.
“Jeff acted quickly and decisively. His courage, reserved only for a chosen few, needs to be celebrated! We are forever grateful for his heroic act,” said Nicole Evans, Red Cross Central and Mid Coast Maine Chapter Executive Director, “I hope others will be inspired to ensure they have Red Cross training.”
Last year, the Red Cross of Northern New England trained more than 18,000 people in First Aid, CPR and AED – and another nearly 8,000 in aquatics and water safety.
Red Cross training gives people the knowledge and skills to act in an emergency and save a life. A variety of online, blended (online and in-person skills sessions) and classroom courses are available at redcross.org/take-a-class.
If you or someone you know has used skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course to help save or sustain the life of another individual, visit LifesavingAwards.org to nominate, recognize, or be inspired.