Sam Richards, a student at Brandeis University, received the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit at the Wiscasset Community Center pool earlier this week.

Last January, Richards, 21, of Bristol, called on his American Red Cross training in Lifeguard, First Aid and CPR to save his father’s life. The two men were sitting down for a steak dinner when Todd Richards jokingly took a large bite of meat, never intending to swallow it. The steak became lodged in his throat and he began choking. He threw a fork at his son to get his attention before he fell unconscious, stopped breathing and had an undetectable pulse for several minutes. Sam Richards, who was Red Cross trained in lifesaving skills, sprang into action. After several unsuccessful attempts at abdominal thrusts, he knew is only option was to clear his father’s airway. Miraculously, he was able to get his fingertips on a tiny corner of the steak and pulled until he dislodged it. His mother called 911 – and Sam successful performed CPR until his father eventually began breathing on his own.

Todd Richards said:

I would have died. Sam flat out saved my life. It’s overwhelming for all the right reasons – and at the same time, I feel horrible that I put him through that. I’m certainly glad he had the training.

Sam grew up at the Wiscasset Community Center, starting in swim lessons as a toddler and progressing through the competitive swim program. He then got his Red Cross Lifeguarding Certification.
Though he never became a lifeguard, the skills he learned in that course, saved his father’s life. After the incident, his lifeguarding instructor and swim coach, Lori LaPointe, nominated Sam for a national Red Cross Lifesaving Award.

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