In 1974, Dr. Henry Heimlich invented the Heimlich maneuver that, according to his institute, has saved the lives of more than 50,000 people in the United States. Yet in the last 42 years Heimlich has never employed his maneuver to save a life – until now.
On May 23, a woman at an Ohio senior living community began choking on a piece of meat. According to CNN.com, Heimlich noticed the woman’s distress and came to her aid.
“She obviously wasn’t breathing,” Heimlich said. He wrapped his arms around her waist, put his fist below her rib cage, and after three abdominal presses the 87-year-old woman spit out a piece of hamburger. Patty Gill Ris and Heimlich were sitting at the same table in the dining room of the Deupree House in Cincinnati.
There were reportedly more than 100 witnesses to Heimlich’s actions, including other diners and staff. Among the onlookers was maitre d’ Perry Gaines, who says he has already used the technique twice in 2016 on other choking victims.
Gaines said he heard someone was choking and rushed out of the kitchen to assist when he spotted Heimlich already performing the procedure. “I stopped what I was doing and waited to see if he needed any assistance. Of course he didn’t.”
“Oh gosh am I lucky that I sat there,” Ris said. “And God put me right there at that table right next to Dr. Heimlich. Thank this wonderful man for saving my life.”
Ris was fortunate that someone who knew how to perform the Heimlich maneuver effectively was nearby, so she did not become of the thousands who succumb to choking annually. Choking is the fourth leading cause of accidental death in the US, according to HealthResearchFunding.org. In 2010 alone, 4,700 died from choking. That number was up 4 percent from 2009. Sixty-five percent of fatal choking victims are infants.
Heimlich has said that he always intended the maneuver to be taught to the masses, not just medical professionals. Unfortunately, many people have heard of the maneuver but it is unlikely as many people know how to actually do it. What if you or a loved one died unexpectedly from something as common as eating a hamburger? Do you have instructions and a plan set for your estate?
Legals document assistants with CALDA have the knowledge to assist you with estate planning, such as establishing living trusts or writing wills. They do not provide legal advice, but can help you complete legal documents that bring peace of mind. LDAs offer a range of services at affordable rates. Contact CALDA.org today for more information.