The surgeon who gave his name to the simple but dramatic procedure used to rescue people from choking saved someone’s life with the Heimlich Manoeuvre at the age of 96.
In 2016 the retired chest surgeon assisted a female resident at his retirement home in Cincinnati who was choking, saving yet another life.
They were dining together and when he saw that she was choking Dr. Heimlich spun her around in her chair so he could get behind her and administered several upward thrusts with a fist until the piece of meat she was choking on was dislodged and she could breathe again. This is the simple procedure that is taught to all who provide in-home elderly care when they complete CPR training.
Prior to the Heimlich Maneuver, the standard practice for dealing with choking was to hit the afflicted person on the back. Heimlich argued then and still does, that this action can force the obstruction further into the airway, not dislodge it.
The Heimlich Maneuver can be used by trained in-home senior caregivers and by the general public. The Heimlich Maneuver consists of an in-home caregiver putting their arms around the choking victim and exerting upward abdominal thrusts, just above the navel and below the ribs, with the linked hands in a fist, until the obstruction is dislodged.
In the US just over 4,800 people die annually from choking through various causes, with around 3,000 of those believed to be from choking on food, according to the US National Safety Council. These choking deaths can be prevented by this simple and effective maneuver. Therefore all in-home caregivers referred by Abby Services are trained in the important lifesaving procedure as part of their state-required training.