Contact: Melinda Zemper Email: mzemper@fuse.

net Phone: (513) 706-3737

May 26, 2013

How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver Saturday, June 1 is Heimlich Maneuver Day

When someone is choking, there is little time to react. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared. It only takes four minutes for a choking victim to experience asphyxia, brain damage and death. Performing the Heimlich maneuver requires the rescuer to stand behind the victim, put his or her arms around the choking person, and place the thumb side of one


fist between the navel and just under the rib cage. Then the rescuer presses the fist inward and upward. The action, when applied correctly, pushes the diaphragm inward and upward. This action compresses the lungs, which causes a substantial flow of air through the airway and out the mouth, expelling the choking object and saving the victim’s life. Repeat the action above until the food or object is expelled from the airway. Dr. Henry Heimlich, developer of the Heimlich maneuver, became interested in the problem of saving choking victims in 1972. He was a thoracic surgeon, associate clinical professor at University of Cincinnati and director of surgery at The Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati. He conducted research on an anaesthetized beagle and did studies on himself and 10 other doctors, measuring the huge flow of air coming out of the mouth. He proved that pressing the diaphragm upward, compressing the lungs, could carry a piece of food out of airway and out of the mouth. Hitting the back or squeezing the rigid chest does not produce any air flow. By 1974, his treatment had developed into what became known as the Heimlich maneuver. In 1985, U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop ruled in his Public Health Reports that administering backslaps to a choking victim is “hazardous, even lethal.” He also urged the American Red Cross (ARC) and American Heart Association to teach only the Heimlich maneuver in their first aid classes, and to withdraw from circulation “manuals, posters, materials that recommend treating choking victims with back slaps and blows to the chest.” The ARC did not comply. Today, its website erroneously recommends five backslaps, then five Heimlich maneuvers to treat choking victims. The Red Cross has

recommended backslaps since 1933 without citing one report of backslaps ever saving a choking victim’s life. Medical evidence from the 17 th century through today indicates that backslaps can lodge a piece of food or item tighter and deeper in the airway. Each week there are 10 to 20 documented cases worldwide, or up to 1,040 people per year, in which adults and even young children save lives by performing the Heimlich maneuver on a choking victim. The Heimlich maneuver has become a part of popular culture: a character named Heimlich was featured in the movie A Bug’s Life and Disneyworld in Los Angeles operates a popular children’s ride called Heimlich’s Chew Chew train. Heimlich is a member of the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame (1985); the Safety and Health Hall of Fame; and a recipient of the American Academy of Achievement Award. For more information on performing

the Heimlich maneuver on adults, infants and yourself, go to The Heimlich Institute in Cincinnati promotes the education of sixth graders on the proper way to perform the Heimlich maneuver with its Heimlich Heroes science curriculum. The program is in10 schools in Cincinnati and will have

reached 523 students by the end of this school year. Heimlich Heroes coordinator Debbie Wolfer anticipates expanding the curriculum into schools nationwide over time. Heimlich

Heroes is supported by The Heimlich Institute, a subsidiary of Deaconess Associations, Inc. For more information about the Heimlich Heroes program, go


to or call Wolfer at (513) 559-2468.