By CBSNewYork Team

RAHWAY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A man nearly choked to death inside a New Jersey restaurant, but a group of emergency workers that happened to be at the eatery as well rushed in and saved his life.

As CBS2’s Christina Fan reports, for many EMTs like Amber Henderson, saving lives is much more than a job. When the off-duty member of the Elizabeth Fire Department saw a man choking on his dinner inside the Waiting Room restaurant Monday, her instincts kicked in.

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“In the middle of me doing the Heimlich, I dislodged a small piece of the steak it was that he was eating, but he was still evidently choking,” said Henderson said.

Luckily for the man, the Rahway restaurant was teeming with off-duty first responders. Amber heard a Rahway cop yell out for help, then felt a nudge from behind.

“I turn around and it’s actually one of my co-workers, Justin McGhee,” she said.

“I just kind of tapped her on the shoulder and said ‘Hey, what are you doing here?'” McGhee said.

“And I’m like ‘What are you doing here? Help me,'” Amber said.

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They are both EMTS with Elizabeth Fire. Not only were they both coincidentally there, but McGhee was having dinner with four other EMS workers. Together, they took turns trying to dislodge the food – using equipment from the Rahway Fire Department, when they arrived.

“We lowered the gentleman onto the ground and we began compressions on him when he lost consciousness,” McGhee said.

The actions of the off-duty EMTs and officer proved to be lifesaving. With ambulances in town tied up with other calls, it took about 15 minutes for a first aid squad to come from the next town over.

“I’m lucky, he’s lucky, we are all lucky that we were all in that one space together,” Henderson said.

Luck may have been part in it, but when duty called, these heroes answered.

The man was taken to Rahway Hospital in critical condition. He is still recovering in the intensive care unit, but is expected to make a full recovery.

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Christina Fan contributed to this report. 

CBSNewYork Team