Red Cross Hero: Adult good Samaritan

Jeff Parr

WYOMISSING, Pa. - July 18, 2016, was Jeff Parr's first day on the job as an accounts manager at Security Guards Inc. in Wyomissing. Before that, for 23 years, Parr was a police officer in Reading. He retired as a captain in June.

"We had a lot of respect for Jeff, and as soon as we knew he was going to retire, we hired him before we had a position open, because we didn't want to lose the opportunity to have him come work for our company," said Guido Pichini, the president & CEO of Security Guards Inc.

On Parr's first day, his boss invited him to lunch.

"I was having lunch, which had been pre-scheduled with a client over at Third & Spruce in West Reading, and so I asked Jeff if he would like to go with me," Pichini recalled.

"Being my first day, I'm not going to pass up a free lunch," Parr joked.

The three ordered off the menu. The client had ordered steak. After a few bites, something seemed to be wrong.

"At first, it was just coughing, and we didn't think it was a real problem, but after awhile, he stood up and his eyes started rolling back and he was pointing to his mouth and his throat, and the whole place came really quiet," Pichini remembered.

"I could see the pain," Parr said. "When he jumped up and started pointing and I could see the panic in his eyes."

"Everybody started standing up and watching what was going on," Pichini said. "The only person who didn't do that was Jeff, who stood up very quickly."

Parr went behind the man who was choking and, without hesitating, performed what used to be called the Heimlich maneuver. After a few tries, the piece of steak popped out.

"He was fine, yeah. Coughed a little more," Parr recalled. "We looked at each other and went about the meeting."

In all those years as a police officer, Parr never performed the life-saving procedure.

"It never goes away once you get that training, so I know it does work now," Parr said.

"It was Jeff's actions that really saved his life," Pichini said. "I'm sure it was an experience for everybody that was at the restaurant that day. I'm just happy that it turned out the way that it did, that Jeff was there to do what he did and that our client walked away healthy and alive. I always joke with him that was his first day, what's he going to do next week, because it was a pretty impressive first day on the job."

Since then, there have been more meetings and more lunches. Parr always seems to get an invite.

"We razz him about that all the time," Pichini said. "You know, 'Oh don't worry about it. Jeff will save you."

Parr will be recognized as an American Red Cross adult good Samaritan hero during the annual Berks County Heroes breakfast on May 11 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Wyomissing. You can buy tickets online or by calling the Red Cross in Reading at 610-375-4383.

Other heroes who will be honored at the breakfast are in the categories of law enforcement, fire, medical, 911 dispatch, youth good Samaritan, military, animal rescue, and community impact.

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