Heimlich Maneuver Saves Many Lives

Click to see original imageBy N. LA VERL CHRISTENSEN
Sclpps League Newspapers
What would you do if you suddenly
realized a person in your presence
was choking on a piece of food or other
object and couldn’t breathe?
Choking can cause death in just four
minutes. Indeed. it claims an es-
timated 4,000 fatalities in America
each year.
Just recently Mayor Edward Koch of
New York City almost choked to death
while dining in a restaurant. Unable to
i talk or breathe. he fought off panic and
mouthed the words, “I am choking,”
:4 to his friend, David Margolis.
a Koch then stood and raised his arms
S as Margolis dislodged the food from
c the mayor-‘s throat with his version of
‘ the “Heimlich Maneuver” – locking
his hands over the diaphragm and
pushing in and upward.
“suddenly I could breathe,” Koch
related gratefully,
Mayor Koch’s case helps dramatize
a predicament which happens all too
often – one in which any person could
find himself either as choking victim
or rescurer. In either case, knowing
“what to do” can make the difference
between tragedy or safe recovery.
The Heimlich Maneuver – named
for Dr. Henry L. Heimlich. specialist
in esophagus surgery who developed
the technique – is simple enough for
an informed layman to perfomi.
Stories of its successful application
are numerous by ‘youm as well as
adult, Sometimes even a choking vlc-
tim himself is able to apply die remedy
with satisfactory results.
On May 16, UM. according to Boy
Scouts of America records, students of
the Annallee Avenue School in Los
Angeles were playing kickball when
Hershel Beasley, 10, choked on candy.
Most pupils panicked and ran to
report to the teacher. But Joseph
Johansen, 10, had been taught the
Heimlich Maneuver at a Cub Scout
meeting. He dislodged the candy and
saved Hershel’s life.
In Orem 10-year-old Clark Maughan
and his sister Krista, B, learned the
maneuver at a “baby sitters class” at
the Orem Fire Department. .While the
parents, Dr. and Mrs. Mike Maughan.
were at church on a day in December
IME, baby brother Rob, 22 months.
swallowed a bulky ring which blocked
his windplpe.
Rob started to turn blue. Krista tried
the Heimiich tedtnique unsuccessful-
ly. Then Clark took over and it worked.
The ring popped out and the toddler
was breathing.
On Dec. 29, 1979, Salvatore
Bonamico, 12, a Boy Scout in New
York, responded to the nighttime
screams of his mother when the father
couldn’t breathe after a cough drop
obstructed his air passage. Salvato1e’s
scout trainlnl paid off – he saved his
dad’s life.
Lt. Evan Henderson. emergency
medical services director at the Provo
Fire Department, says instruction in
the Heimlich Maneuver can be ob-
tained through the firemen or Red
Cross in most cities.
Viewers of a training film, he points
out, will learn to perform the
maneuver with the victim standing.
sitting. or prone,
Henderson mentioned various chok-
ing emergencies – an elderly man
rescued by a ski patrol member when
he choked on chicken at an Elks Lodge
dinner; an off-duty paramedic ad-
ministering the maneuver to a choking
man at a steak fry; a 75-year-old man
at a rest home saved by paramedics
after he’d collapsed when a chunk of
beef stuck in his windpipe.
Jerry A. Holmes, a Red Cross in-
structor, says choking that is life-
threatening occurs when a piece of
food, candy or other foreign object
(even including water) presses down
on the epiglottis ( valve or lld at the top
of the windpipe), keeping it closed; or
gets under the epiglottis. plugging the
air passage.
Partial or temporary choking, or
swallowing a particle into the bronchi
isn’t apt to be life-threatening and the
irritation usually is relieved by the vic-
tim’s own coughing, Holmes notes.
What symptoms should you look for
to be sure a person is actually choking?
“Any of three,” says Holmes: “The
victim cannot talk or breathe; he turns
blue; he collapses ., falls unconscious
due to lack of oxygen.”
The victim of a non-fatal heart can
breathe and may speak and complain
of chest pain. But the choking victim
can neither speak nor breathe.
Instructors teach use of’the simple
gesture of placing your hand around
your throat to signify, “I am choking, ”
The Heimlich maneuver should be
used only when you are sure the victim
is choking because of obstruction,
If the victim is standing: Stand
behind him and wrap your arms
around his waist. Grasp your fist with N
your other hand and place the fist.
thumb side toward the victim. against l
his abdomen, slightly above the navel
and below the rib cage. Press your
fist into the victim’s abdomen with a
quick upward thnist. Repeat several
times if necessary.
if victim is sitting: Stand or kneel
behind the chair and perform the
maneuver the same way.
If victim has collapsed or is too
heavy to lift; ‘hirn him face up so that
he is lying on his back. Face victim
and kneel astride his hips. With one of
‘ our hands atop the other, place the
‘ heel of your bottom hand on the ab-
‘ domen in the same position as above
1 and proceed in a similar manner.