KC firefighter who helped passengers on derailed Amtrak train assists choking MLB fan in DC

“There was no doubt about the fact he was moving zero air.”
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 6:41 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - It turns out that an off-duty firefighter who jumped into action inside a baseball stadium had found himself in a lifesaving situation while traveling before.

While in Washington D.C. to receive a national service award for helping passengers on a derailed Amtrak train, Todd Covington decided to take in a Nationals game with his parents, son and girlfriend.

“It was a beautiful night,” Covington said. “Just watching the baseball game and, all the sudden, my girlfriend jumps up and yells.”

A few rows away, baseball fans were trying to help a man who was choking inside Nationals Park.

“There was no doubt about the fact he was moving zero air,” Covington said.

Covington has been in harrowing situations before while off-duty. He was riding on an Amtrak train to Chicago last year for FEMA training when it derailed near Mendon, Missouri, and he was nearly crushed. Once they could climb from the debris, Covington and firefighter Joe Disciacca started helping other passengers.

“We came up with a plan and started going car to car, trying to make as much of a difference as we could right there,” Covington recalled.

The firefighters were alongside the superintendent of Mendon schools in D.C. so they could receive a national service award. Then, that night at the ballpark turned into another chance to save a life.

“I just hopped up two rows,” Covington said. “Came two rows over, gave him a couple back blows.”

He used the Heimlich maneuver, which dislodged a peanut that was preventing the man from breathing. Other fans cheered once he was able to breathe again.

“We updated his scorecard for him and he was back on track,” Covington said.

The Nationals staff thanked Covington for the quick save with a Joey Meneses’ home run ball.

“Somehow or another, they tracked the ball down and he signed it,” Covington said. “It’s sitting at home now.”

“It is very rewarding for me just to be able to interject and make sure somebody else gets to go home for the night,” he said.

Covington’s arrival back in KC coincides with the Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department training their largest academy class. The 110 fire cadets must complete six months of training to graduate the academy.

“You don’t turn it off when that’s what you do for a living; you help people,” Interim KCFD Chief Ross Grundyson said. “He jumped in and made a difference.”