A RESTAURANT diner was saved from choking — by an off-duty firefighter sitting at the next table.

Stacey Jefferies, aged 42, who has been a firefighter for 21 years, was having lunch with friends and family at the Strawbury Duck, in Overshores Road, Turton, on January 2, when the woman began to choke.

Mr Jefferies, who is based at Bolton North fire station, went to her aid and, using his training, started to slap the woman on the back.

Realising this technique was not working, he began to implement the Heimlich manoeuvre — a technique of abdominal thrusts — which after three attempts cleared the woman’s airways.

The father-of-two, from Bradshaw, said: “I saw her stand up and she was in distress. She was choking and instinct took over.

“After the back slaps didn’t work, I moved her in front of me and did the thrusts. Thankfully she started breathing again.

“I just did what any other firefighter would do in that position, on or off duty.”

He added: “Not everyone knows we have specialist training every week in things like basic life-support, heart starts and what to do if someone is choking.

“It has really given me the knowledge and confidence of what to do in those situations.”

The woman thanked Mr Jefferies and later went to the station to thank him again.

Lauren Mason, aged 23, manager at the Strawbury Duck, said: “It was absolutely amazing. He just jumped up and started helping her. It was a split-second reaction from him and everyone was just standing watching in amazement.

“Stacey is a regular and I’m sure he will be offered a free pint the next time he comes in.”

A Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service spokesman confirmed that firefighters across Bolton are trained teachers of the British Heart Foundation’s HeartStart, which teaches life-saving CPR and also includes instructions on what to do if someone is choking.

The spokesman added: “It means firefighters can deliver the training to schools and community groups.

For details of a HeartStart course email bolton& wigan@manchesterfire.gov.uk.