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January 27, 2016

Peter M. Heimlich
3630 River Hollow Run
Peachtree Corners, GA 30096

Dear Mr. Heimlich,

Your correspondence dated January 13, 2016, to Commissioner Elia has been forwarded
to the Office of Student Support Services for response. In your letter you expressed concern
regarding some schools in New York State (NYS) possessing a device, LifeVac, which is
advertised to be used on a person to alleviate choking. Your concern is based on the fact that
the device appears to not have had appropriate scientific studies to determine efficacy and
safety. We appreciate your concern and have just recently been made aware of the device in

The Education Department recommends that schools develop best practice and
evidence-based policies and protocols to manage health emergencies in collaboration with their
medical director who is a physician or nurse practitioner, which all public school districts must
employ to oversee school health services. Current best practice to treat a choking person
referred to as foreign body airway obstruction (FBAO), is the Heimlich maneuver for a conscious
person or chest thrusts and sweep of oral cavity for an unconscious person.

Since the treatment of FBAO may involve the use of CPR and an AED, we would also
like to remind schools that Education Law also requires all public schools have a public access
defibrillator (a functional cardiac automated external defibrillator equipment) provided and
maintained on-site in each instructional school facility for use during emergencies, and shall
ensure the presence of at least one staff person who is trained, pursuant to Public Health Law
section 3000b(3)(a), in the operation and use of an automated external defibrillator. Public
health law 3000(b) defines trained personnel as having successfully completed a training course
in the operation of an automated external defibrillator approved by a nationally-recognized
organization or the state emergency medical services council, and that such certification is
current. Such training courses for FBAO and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) follow the
current American Heart Association Guidelines of 2015

Additionally, Public Health Law section 3000(b) requires such schools to have a
collaborative agreement with an emergency health care provider. The collaborative agreement
shall include a written agreement that incorporates written practice protocols, and policies and
procedures that shall assure compliance with this section of law.
Thank you for sharing your concern with the NYS Education Department. We will
remind school health personnel of the current laws and regulations governing emergency health
care in schools, and to consult with their medical director, or emergency collaborative provider
prior to utilizing any new equipment or procedures for use in health emergencies,


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'Karen ~fl()((Ou}ool R.'\, HS0:,,\ IS[d
Associate in School 0:ursin$
Office of Student Support Services
l\'ew York State Fduc.ition Dcp.utmcnt

c: Records Access Officer
Sharon Holder