NUTLEY, NJ – Life can change in an instant and quick-thinking citizens can turn into heroes.

Anthony Gagliardo, an employee with Township of Nutley’s Department of Parks and Public Property for 20 years, was working his weekend job at The Home Depot in Clifton when tragedy almost befell a customer.

While doing his duties on a recent Saturday afternoon and bringing a heavy pallet of stones from around the building to the front entrance of the store to load into a customer’s truck, Gagliardo spotted something nearby that was not quite right.

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Gagliardo noticed another customer named Jack, a 66-year-old man, outside the store who was doubled-over and coughing.  When the gentleman stood up, he was no longer coughing and could not speak.

“I saw he was choking, and instinct took over, so I immediately walked behind him and gave him the Heimlich maneuver, and a piece of a bagel popped out,” Gagliardo told TAP.  “I could have just walked away, or I could have gone inside the store to call for help, but it would have been too late.  The lack of oxygen could have affected his brain by the time other help arrived.”

After the bagel piece was dislodged from his windpipe, Jack replied with, “thank you, you just saved my life!”

Jack was on a schedule to take his heart medication and prior to taking it, he was eating a bagel.  The heroic act by Gagliardo enabled Jack to celebrate his 67th birthday the following week.

As a township employee and general foreman with Parks and Public Property, Gagliardo is one of three workers in the department certified in CPR and choking hazards.

“It’s nice that we have key staff members within our department that are certified, including instructors who work our youth programs,” Gagliardo added.  “Our department director, Mayor Mauro Tucci, sent us for certification two years ago, and it paid off.”

Mayor Tucci is extremely proud of the heroic act performed by his longtime township employee.

“Anthony was one of several people in the Parks Department that we had get trained in CPR and choking hazards and I’m not surprised that he saved someone’s life,” Mayor Tucci told TAP.  “Anthony is a conscientious guy and he’s a part of the future leadership of the Parks Department along with Frank DeMaio and Michael Kirk.  This heroic act is par for the course for Anthony -- he’s such a great guy.”

The Regional Vice President of The Home Depot also sent accolades a prestigious recognition award to Gagliardo.  He has been with the company on weekends for 17 years.

“I’m happy for what he does on daily basis for the Township of Nutley, and Home Depot is lucky to have him on a part time-basis,” Tucci added.

It’s great to see a public employee’s due diligence pay off in taking a CPR and choking hazard course by utilizing those skills in an emergency to save a life.

Since 2016,  has been the only locally owned news organization serving the Township of Nutley, and is a member of the New Jersey Press Association. The Nutley Board of Commissioners first named the township's 'Official Electronic News Source' in 2019.

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