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‘Thankful I could help’: Mass. cop awarded after saving 2 lives in 1 month

Officer John Sweeney was presented with the District Attorney’s Team Excellence and Merit Award last week for outstanding service in public safety


Officer John Sweeney, a former Massachusetts State Trooper, joined Westborough PD just seven months ago because he wanted to do more community policing.

Tom Matthews/Mass Live

By Tom Matthews

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — “Johnny on the spot” is what Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. called Westborough Police Officer John Sweeney Thursday afternoon as he awarded the officer who has saved two lives in his seven months with the department.

Sweeney, a former Massachusetts State Trooper, joined the Westborough Police Department in the summer of 2021 and has saved two lives — a 48-year-old man and a roughly 6-month-old baby — in his short time with the department.

On Jan. 5, 2022, Sweeney accompanied a Westborough Fire Department ambulance responding to a call at the Arrive Westborough Apartments on Route 9. While waiting outside as fire department personnel went inside the 297 Turnpike Road building, a 48-year-old man came out of the building and ran toward the ambulance, where Sweeney was standing, Early said in a press conference outside the Westborough Police Station.

The man had nothing to do with the original call to the building and was unaware paramedics were already inside the apartment building, but was holding his neck and in clear need of help, Early said.

Sweeney quickly realized the man was choking and began to perform the Heimlich maneuver on the man and dislodged food from the man’s throat, the Worcester DA said.

The man declined further medical treatment after being checked out by fire personnel.

Less than a month later, Sweeney saved the life of a choking baby.

On Feb. 2, around 6: 30 p.m., a man called Westborough police reporting that his baby was not breathing and stayed on the phone with authorities while he began to drive to the Westborough Fire Department.

Sweeney was working a traffic detail near the fire department when he heard the call come in over his radio, Early said.

After hearing the call, Sweeney then saw the man running towards him with the baby. The man handed the baby to Sweeney, who began to administer back blows to the baby before the child started to breathe again.

Early presented Sweeney with the District Attorney’s Team Excellence and Merit — TEAM — Award, which recognizes outstanding service by those in public safety. Early created the TEAM Award in 2019 to recognize public safety employees who go above and beyond the call of duty.

“This isn’t a good story, it’s a great story,” Early said. “It’s an incredible story when you get right down to it ... These things are just some of the great stories that go on every day that the public never hears about. That’s why we put the TEAM award together. We’re incredibly grateful to have such talented people in this county.”

Speaking Thursday, Sweeney joked he was almost run over by the father driving to the fire department but was fortunate his training kicked in right away and was able to save the baby.

“The nerves don’t really get to you in the moment,” he said. “But you take a deep breath after and that’s when you realize the magnitude.”

Westborough Police Chief Jeffrey A. Lourie said he’s proud he hired Sweeney.

“He’s going to have an absolutely fantastic career,” Lourie said. “And, again, I’m extremely proud of our entire team. He’s definitely one of our all-stars.”

Sweeney told MassLive he joined the Westborough Police Department because he wanted to do more community policing.

“With this job, anything can happen,” he said. “So, you just got to be at the ready. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

He joked that his wife had not wanted him to take the traffic detail shift.

“Somebody put me there for this outcome,” he said. “I’m just thankful I could help out.”

©2022 Advance Local Media LLC.

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