If you don’t know how to do it, most people have at least heard of the famous Heimlich Maneuver used so often to stop someone from choking. It’s rare to find someone who hasn’t heard of it since its display in pop culture has become so prevalent. What you may not know, however, is that the doctor who invented the crucial life-saving maneuver has now used it for himself for the first time to save someone else’s life directly.
Dr. Henry Heimlich saved the life of 87-year-old Patty Ris when she was choking on a hamburger in a nursing home. Heimlich lives in the Deupree House in Cincinnati, and at age 96, was able to save the life of a fellow resident because of the maneuver he invented back in 1974 in the publication “Emergency Medicine.”
The specific intricacies of these widely known series of abdominal thrusts are important to note, seeing as how choking is one of the leading causes in accident-related deaths.
First, one must look for the signs. The universal sign of choking is, unsurprisingly, the motion of two hands grasped around the neck. You’ll probably be able to tell if someone is choking by the look on their face, too, and the sounds they should be making but won’t be able to if they have a completely obstructed airway. If food or another object blocks all air flow, and you and the victim cannot verbally communicate, that is the time to step into action with the Heimlich.
Stepping behind the choking victim, the Heimlich Maneuver can then be performed by taking the fist and thumb of your dominant hand below the ribs and diaphragm and wrapping that into your other hand. One should move said thumb upward and into the abdomen of the person choking. Applied force has a very prominent chance of pushing the obstruction from the airway with repeated thrusting movements. Do not be afraid to thrust with gusto!
To avoid injury, make sure your hands are equidistant between the belly button and the sternum. And to make sure you don’t freak anyone out by performing the Heimlich, talk to the choking victim and reassure them everything will be all right. The Heimlich Maneuver is a very important skill to perfect! Practice the motions with a friend, and you’ll be prepared to save a life.