Heimlich maneuver - for adults, children, infants, pregnant women, yourself & your petsAugust 02, 2016
2 months ago, a young doctor died in Trissur when she choked on a piece of food while at the mall food court. What was really tragic was that she was not alone - there were hundreds of people in the mall at that time. And yet, none could help dislodge the piece of food that went down her airway. Residing in India, you all would have read this news article, I assume. You would have lamented the tragic loss and shook your head, I am sure.
Here's my question to you - did you go online and read what should have been done under such circumstances to save a life?
I am guessing the answer to that is no.
I had written in detail about this years ago but now is as good a time as any to review this topic on the blog so that everyone can learn/recall what they know about it.
The Heimlich maneuver requires no specific medical expertise. Dr Henry Heimlich devised this precisely for that reason - because doctors cannot be everywhere and a person can choke to death in minutes.
Choking is defined as the inability to breathe due to obstruction of the trachea. It is a medical emergency as the obstruction prevents air from entering the lungs. If this obstruction cannot be relieved, the lack of oxygen will eventually lead to death.
Every year, nearly 1,00,000 people die due to accidental suffocation of food or a foreign body.
Signs and Symptoms of a blocked airway :
For the sake of clarity, we'll discuss the Heimlich maneuver under six separate categories :
Speaking as a doctor, a big mistake you all make is in assuming that only a doctor can save you at all times. The whole point of the Heimlich maneuver was to help the everyday Joe, Janet and Jamila save a life in case of an emergency.
Somebody choking with an obstructed airway does not have a lot of time. Every second counts. You cannot wait for an auto rickshaw or ambulance and wade through traffic to reach a hospital.
You have minutes before the person or child loses consciousness.
A few more before brain damage begins.
A few more before they are lost forever.
These are fragile lives we have. The unforeseen lurks around every corner.
I pray you never have a reason to give the Heimlich to anyone in your life. But if the situation arises, I hope you will step up and save a life.
P. S. An interesting footnote -
Dr Henry Heimlich who devised this maneuver in 1974 and taught it thousands of times over the years used it for the first time in his life a few months ago in May 2016 to save the life of an 87 year old man dining next to him at an assisted living facility.
Dr Henry Heimlich was 96 years old when he performed it.
Which means I was 61 years younger than he was when I performed it for the first time in my life last week.
Day 7 - Recipe - Easy Eggless Chocolate Cake (Food)