Police Chief Dave Spiller recently took the opportunity to publicly commend one of Pleasanton's finest, lauding Sgt. Marty Billdt for "heroic and life-saving actions" in helping an older man who was choking at a local restaurant.
Billdt, one of Pleasanton's more recognizable policemen after working as a school resource officer, received the special commendation during a presentation at the police headquarters last month -- video of which was later posted on the department's social media.
"In a time when there is a lot of negativity around law enforcement, it's great to celebrate positive actions, heroic actions and certainly, life-saving actions," Spiller told the Weekly this week.
"An off-duty officer recognizing the responsibility of service and leveraging their training and experience to intervene and save a life is emblematic of good work and the touch that first responders, particularly law enforcement, have on our community," the police chief added.
For his part, Billdt was quick to shine the spotlight on the four other diners at Chili's that night who ran over to the table to provide any help they could, as well as the training he has received while working for the Pleasanton Police Department.
"Again, I was amazed by the response from the other patrons who also ran to their aid and offering assistance while I was performing the Heimlich (maneuver)," Billdt told the Weekly.
"It's important to acknowledge how important training is and to stay updated with the current techniques," he added. "I'm also extremely grateful to all of my department trainers who volunteer their time and are passionate in this area of teaching because it's their dedication as trainers that assisted in this helping this male. As police officers we can train and prepare for a lot of different scenarios like at Chili's."
The situation unfolded when Billdt was dining with his family off-duty at the Hopyard Road restaurant one November evening when an older woman began asking for help with her husband slumped over in the booth, according to the sergeant.
Billdt said he ran to the table while his wife asked someone to call 9-1-1. Four other diners came over to help the elderly couple, but Billdt arrived first and took the lead.
"It initially appeared to me that he had suffered a major medical condition such as a heart attack as he was unresponsive. As I went to pull him out of the booth, I could hear the wife say he had been choking before collapsing," Billdt said.
"I immediately pulled him out and started to administer the Heimlich on him," the sergeant added. "It took about three to four good thrusts to clear his airway."
Personnel from Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department, Paramedics Plus and Livermore Police Department all responded to the call, but the man opted to seek medical aid on his own, according to Billdt.
"We didn't talk much, but I could tell he had a sense of humor because he made a joke similar to, 'At my age I would think I would know how to slow down and chew better.' They both thanked me, and when they left, the wife continued to profusely thank me," Billdt said.
Billdt, who has worked for Pleasanton police for nearly 13 years, was promoted to sergeant last summer after serving in the rank of officer in a wide variety of assignments, including patrol, traffic enforcement and as a school resource officer.