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Ballpark hero: Nationals Park beer vendor saves choking childA season filled with unspeakable tragedy and unfortunate accidents both on and off the field finally has a potentially serious story with a very happy ending.

Emmanuel Marlow, a 49-year-old Washington, D.C., native who works as a vendor at Nationals Park and other stadiums in the district, was making his normal rounds Thursday afternoon shortly after the start of a Washington Nationals game when he noticed a commotion in one of his sections.

A young boy had begun choking on his food and those around him were panicking.

According to a witness who first reported the heroic act to Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, when Marlow came upon the scene and saw that no one else had taken charge, he immediately abandoned his vending duties and began performing the Heimlich maneuver.

[Related: NFL star Jeremy Shockey saves teammate's life]

After two unsuccessful thrusts, Marlow remained calm and cool, and ensured the child's mother he would be all right. On his third attempt, Marlow dislodged a piece of chicken from the child's throat.

"I guess they never had experienced a first-aid situation," said Marlow, who had once worked a game at FedEx Field when a patron had a mild stroke. "[The boy] was actually going to a new color. I knew I needed to jump in and do it. There was no time for hesi­ta­tion. It had to be done right then and there."

After a quick examination at the stadium, the boy was deemed to be OK. His grateful mother went up to Marlow and spent 10 minutes hugging him, crying and thanking him for saving her son's life.

And then, just like that, Marlow went back to work.

"I was just glad I was there and knew what to do and did it; that's the best thing that happened," Marlow told [Steinberg]. "His mother's not grieving over a lost child. That's the most important thing."

Ballpark hero: Nationals Park beer vendor saves choking childIt's concerning to hear how long the situation played out before someone — anyone — took charge to help the young child. And it's very scary to consider what the outcome could have been if Marlow had not come along. I would strongly encourage anyone who has not been trained in performing the Heimlich, CPR and other life-saving procedures to consider taking the small amount of time it requires to either become certified, or simply become familiar enough to be comfortable taking action in a similar emergency.

That's what Marlow did; he once took a free CPR class at a local college, Steinberg writes, because he thought it might come in handy some day. And it might not surprise you to learn that Marlow's "day" job begins at 3 a.m. and involves caring for patients with Parkinson's disease. Marlow says it's just in his nature to help people.

You just never know when a similar situation will play out around you, or even involving someone you love. It's always better to be safe and prepared than to be sorry.

Right now, we're all very thankful Emmanuel Marlow took the time and was prepared to do what was right. That is what makes a hero.

Follow Mark on Twitter — @Townie813 — and engage the Stew on Facebook

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