Re-training the American public how to respond to a choking emergency -- and some related questions
by Peter M. Heimlich- In 2005 the American Red Cross (ARC) downgraded the Heimlich maneuver to a secondary treatment because it's considered less invasive than back blows
- 2005 American Heart Association guidelines stated that Life-threatening complications have been associated with the use of abdominal thrusts (the Heimlich maneuver) and dozens of journal articles document those complications. So why was that sentence removed from subsequent AHA guidelines?
- The "Guildner maneuver": Are chest thrusts more effective and safer than "the Heimlich?"
- Australian first aid organizations have never recommended the Heimlich maneuver which they consider to be unproven and potentially dangerous. Instead they (and New Zealand) recommend chest thrusts
- The US choking death rate has remained unchanged since my father introduced his namesake treatment in 1974. Why?
- Based on zero evidence, in 1985 Surgeon General C. Everett Koop declared back blows and chest thrusts "hazardous, even lethal." Why?
Via Choking 101 by American Red Cross (ARC) medical adviser Richard N. Bradley MD, associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, posted January 22nd, 2013 on the ARC's blog:
American Red Cross 2005 Guidelines for Emergency Care and Education recommend using cycles of 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts to treat conscious, choking children and adults. A review of the scientific literature suggested that back blows, abdominal thrusts and chest compressions are equally effective. Additionally, the use of more than one method can be more effective to dislodge an object. These findings are consistent with those of international resuscitation societies.Click here for instructions posted on the website of the ARC. Click here for an ARC training poster.
The Red Cross certainly isn’t discounting the use of abdominal thrusts. But we include back blows, abdominal thrusts and chest compressions in our training because there is no clear scientific evidence to say that one technique is more effective than the others when treating a choking victim.
According to the February 28, 2014 Chicago Tribune, here's why the ARC updated the protocol:
The back blows are a less-invasive technique that might help clear the airway, so the Red Cross advises trying them first, (said American Red Cross trainer Gabriele Romanucci).If the information about the update is news to you, per the January 2, 2012 Eugene (OR) Register-Guard, this may be part of the reason:
"If that technique is not successful, then we would go to the abdominal thrust," he said.“Based on my experience, very few people, including medical professionals, are aware of the 2006 American Red Cross update,” Peter Heimlich, who lives in Atlanta, said in a subsequent e-mail message last week. “This was a major change in U.S. first-aid guidelines, but the Red Cross didn’t issue a press release so that the media could inform the public. I’ve asked Red Cross officials why they chose not to issue a press release, but I can’t get a straight answer.”Meanwhile, via the current (2010) guidelines of the American Heart Association (AHA):
Interestingly, the following comes the AHA's previous guidelines (2005). Why did the 2010 guidelines remove the highlighted sentence?Although chest thrusts, back slaps, and abdominal thrusts are feasible and effective for relieving severe FBAO in conscious (responsive) adults and children ≥1 year of age, for simplicity in training it is recommended that abdominal thrusts be applied in rapid sequence until the obstruction is relieved.
If abdominal thrusts are not effective, the rescuer may consider chest thrusts.
It is unclear which method of removal of FBAO should be used first. For conscious victims, case reports showed success in relieving FBAO with back blows/slaps, abdominal thrusts, and chest thrusts. Frequently more than one technique was needed to achieve relief of the obstruction. Life-threatening complications have been associated with the use of abdominal thrusts.Click here for my compilation of dozens of journal reports about complications associated with the use of abdominal thrusts (the Heimlich maneuver).
Further, via an April 11, 2007 joint media statement by the AHA and ARC:The American Heart Association recommends the use of chest thrusts if the initial use of abdominal thrusts does not successfully dislodge the foreign body.Two research studies -- Guildner (1976) and Langhelle (2002) -- concluded that chest thrusts are more effective than abdominal thrusts ("the Heimlich) for choking rescue.
After the publication of the study by Charles Guildner MD of Everett, Washington, my father tried to ruin his career. (My father has a track record of abusive conduct towards a number of prominent physicians, simply because they disagreed with his findings.) Click here and here for recent media reports in which Dr. Guildner described my father's behavior. Click here for a lengthy 1981 Seattle Times report about the dispute. Click here for contact info for Dr. Guildner, who's now a respected fine arts photographer.
Further, via a 2009 Australian Broadcasting Company documentary that's first-rate history of "the Heimlich maneuver" by Aviva Ziegler:Almost everyone you speak to about a choking treatment will say 'use the Heimlich manoeuvre' and on any street, in any country you'll probably get the same answer. But you might be shocked to learn that the Heimlich manoeuvre appears to have never been accepted practice in Australia. We are one of the only countries in the world where it's not officially on the books. This is a typical Australian first aid training course held by the St John Ambulance.Why so much confusion in the field? Perhaps because my father never had any legitimate evidence to support his namesake treatment. And rather than do adequate research, he intentionally circumvented the medical community and used the media to direct market to the public. Via his 2014 memoir:
TRAINER: The learning outcomes for this session is we should be able to firstly identify a person who is choking, if somebody is gagging with something partially obstructed in the upper airway we should ask the person to relax and encourage them to cough. Our research has been proven on a conscious casualty a good cough is generally better than anything else. Now if the good cough is not effective we then have to hit that person, we give them what we call back slaps, he's leaning forward, in the centre of the shoulder blades in an upwards direction I would give him five nice solid slaps. If that is unsuccessful we should place a hand in the centre of the back on the sternum and we just press down sharply five chest thrusts and if that is unsuccessful we alternate between the two.
...A question that often comes up in our courses is to why we don't do the Heimlich manoeuvre in Australia. So are you all aware of that where they get that sort of a bear hug squeeze from behind? OK, the reason it's not taught is the simple fact that research conducted here in Australia and also overseas has proven that it can be dangerous because there's a risk of damaging internal organs such as the spleen, the liver, pancreas etc. We follow the policy statements as laid down by the Australian Resuscitation Council, they are saying that if there was any clinical evidence to prove that it was effective they'd put a policy on it and we would have it in our book. Any other questions?Usually, the way medical solutions become popularized is by performing time-consuming studies in hopes that the findings are published in a prestigious medical journal. This could take months or years…I decided that I would use the media to tell others about my discovery.Via another first-rate history of "the Heimlich," A New Maneuver: The circular history of a life-saving medical procedure by Pamela Mills-Senn, Cincinnati Magazine, April 2007:(Was Dr. Heimlich's badgering), not science, the reason for the switch from back blows to the maneuver? Dr. William Montgomery, who chaired the 1985 CPR conference and currently practices in Hawaii, and Dr. Roger White, who chaired panel discussions on the management of foreign-body airway obstructions and who currently serves as consultant and professor at the Mayo Clinic, told me via email that neither Heimlich's antics nor concerns over the AHA'sand ARC's reputations had anything to do with the decision—although they both recall that there was no especially compelling evidence or argument in favor of the maneuver.Via Management of Airway Obstruction by Michael R. Sayre MD, Contemporary Cardiology: Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, 2005:
However, in a 2004 e-mail to Peter Heimlich (who corresponded with White using a pseudonym), White is significantly less blase about Dr. Heimlich's role. "There was never any science here," White wrote. "(Dr.) Heimlich overpowered science all along the way with his slick tactics and intimidation, and everyone, including us at the AHA, caved in."Despite widespread education on the use of the Heimlich maneuver and other techniques for treatment of acute airway obstruction, the death rate remains stable.Also see my June 8, 2016 blog item, Hey, number crunchers! If "the Heimlich" has saved 100,000 lives, why are the stats flat for US choking deaths?
Finally, via Maneuvering Over Heimlich by Lenore Skenazy, Creators Syndicate, February 21, 2007Back blows are "death blows," Dr. Heimlich declared long and loud as he lobbied for his maneuver's acceptance 30 years ago. In 1985, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop endorsed this view, dubbing backslaps "hazardous." After that, only the Heimlich Maneuver was considered kosher.More precisely, based on zero evidence, Dr. Koop declared back blows and chest thrusts "hazardous, even lethal." Why? More via Heimlich Maneuver Endorsed by Cristine Russell, Washington Post, October 2, 1985.
What most people don't realize, Dr. Heimlich's son, Peter Heimlich, said, is that "Koop was an old friend of my father's, and he did it as a buddy favor."
November 13, 2006 - Basics of First Aid: What to Do Until Medical Help Arrives, Voice of America News,
May 26, 2008 - Learning First Aid: What to Do Until You Reach Medical Help, Voice of America (Special English News),
July 18, 2007 - Heimlich's Son Pushes to Discredit Famous Dad by JR Santo, ABC News, The Blotter
In another significant setback, the use of the Heimlich maneuver on choking victims has been quietly downgraded by the American Red Cross. In new guidelines, the Red Cross recommends a series of five back slaps as the first course of action, followed by five Heimlich maneuver thrusts...Dr. Heimlich refused to speak to ABC News..."Every study in this shows that back slaps drive the food deeper and do not save lives, that only the Heimlich maneuver saves lives," eldest son Phil Heimlich told ABC News on behalf of his father. At the 1985 Red Cross and AHA conference, however, only one study was cited that showed back slaps can be dangerous when used on choking victims. That study had been funded by Dr. Heimlich through an institution called the Dysphagia Foundation Inc., which was later renamed The Heimlich Institute....May 13, 2010 - To Your Good Health by Paul G. Donohue MD, King Features syndicated column
July 13, 2010 - CPR: Lifesaving training you hope you'll never have to use by Kristen Gerencher, MarketWatch (Wall Street Journal)
(The) Heimlich maneuver for choking is now the more generic and widely understood "abdominal thrusts"...We learned what to do if an adult starts choking and can no longer talk, cough or breathe. For conscious victims, delivering five separate but not-too-forceful back blows between the shoulder blades and then, if needed, an equal number of abdominal thrusts can help dislodge the item. The abdominal thrusts turned out to be more like a series of squeezes than the violent-looking jolts that are often portrayed on TV.July 27, 2009 - The Heimlich manoeuvre by Aviva Ziegler, a 30-minute radio documentary from Australian Broadcasting
February 14, 2014 - 94-year-old Heimlich maneuver namesake pens memoir by Lisa Cornwell, Associated Press
March 11, 2016 -- Know These Five Life-Saving Emergency Tips by Darria Long Gillespie MD, The Huffington Post
February 24, 2010 - City and county workers learn CPR by Laura Fenton, Selma Times-Journal
June 19, 2008 - Hold That Heimlich, Arkansas Times
ArizonaMarch 9, 2008 - Hundreds Take Time to Learn CPR at Free Red Cross Class by John Driscoll, The Eureka Times-Standard
November 4, 2016 - How to save someone who's choking by Matt Mauro, KPNX-TN New (Phoenix)
September 9, 2008 - How to help a co-worker in a medical crisis by R.J. Ignelzi San Diego Union Tribune
June 19, 2010 - Doctor advises how to help a choking victim, Fremont Tribune
March 6, 2013 - Server at Sorella's gives choking guest the Heimlich maneuver by Tiffany Martin, ABC23, Kero-Bakersfield:
23ABC spoke with The American Red Cross today as they demonstrated how to ideally dislodge an item stuck in the throat.
"You want to start with the five back blows which is right between the shoulder blades, and if they're still choking we go right above the navel and do five abdominal thrust. By then the person would usually cough up the object" said Gabby Tamayo with American Red Cross.
ColoradoNovember 23, 2016, Save the life of someone who is choking, FOX5, San DiegoFebruary 21, 2010 - Know the ABC of emergency first aid by Eric Murray, Sky-Hi Daily News, Grand County, Connecticut
October 23, 2006 - New Haven Register, Red Cross Reverses Policy on Choking Aid by Abram Katz
April 10, 2007 - Red Cross Deviates from Heimlich Maneuver by Anne Pallivathuckal, Journal Inquirer
(Peter Heimlich) says that the Heimlich maneuver works, but "the question is whether it is the best method." Peter contends that the maneuver gained widespread prominence because of his father's media blitz, even while other methods were found to be more effective. Peter cites the work of Charles Guildner, a doctor who studied chest thrusts as a method for rescuing choking victims in the mid-1970s. Guildner did a series of tests to compare the effectiveness of using abdominal thrusts versus chest thrusts by measuring airflow. His findings showed that chest thrusts were more effective. A more recent study in Norway that tested the effectiveness of chest thrusts using cadavers replicated Guildner's findings, Peter says. The AHA in its journal, "Circulation", cites this study, in which randomized trial maneuvers to open the airway in cadavers was tested. The AHA journal also mentions other studies that show that higher sustained airway pressures can be generated using the chest thrust rather than the abdominal thrust.February 7, 2010 - To thrust, or not to thrust? Debate over whether Heimlich maneuver should be the first response for choking by Lisa Chamoff, Greenwich Time
In recent years, stories have recounted years of lobbying by the maneuver's namesake to bring it into prominence as the response to choking. Heimlich -- who turned 80 on Wednesday -- famously declared that back blows were "death blows." Those stories were unearthed by Henry Heimlich's son, Peter. His Web site, medfraud.info, recounts how his father allegedly "engaged in a variety of dirty tricks such as using his secretary to send threat letters under an alias and clandestinely funding a Yale research study which allegedly proved back blows were dangerous." During a recent phone interview, Heimlich declined to comment on how he came to call his father duplicitous, saying he "discovered a fascinating, unseen history of how the Heimlich maneuver came to be a household word." "Science marches on," Heimlich said. "There's been a 30-year scientific debate, not whether the Heimlich maneuver works, which it does for choking, but whether it is the best method."August 20, 2012 - CPR, First-Aid Training A Life-Saving Must For Parents by Sarah Cody, FOX-TV, Hartford, CT
"Bottom line is, yes, you should make the time," he says. "Some of parents' natural instincts are a lot of what we do teach when it comes to choking situations," but it's important for us to know the proper technique of five back blows followed by five abdominal thrusts so that we don't cause further damage.
FloridaSeptember 11, 2008 - Heimlich Maneuvering by Tim Collie, Miami New Times Georgia
October 2, 2014 - Families question first aid response by deputies after recent deaths by Laura Warren, WRDW-TV, Augusta
May 13, 2010 - Kauai boy saves choking father by Manolo Morales, KHON2-TV
September 24, 2006 - Joliet Herald News, Choking Victims: Debate Over Lifesaving - Groups differ in controversy over backblows
While the Red Cross and American Heart Association still say the Heimlich maneuver, or "abdominal thrusts" as it's called, is the foremost way to help somebody who is choking, they take varying stands on whether back blows also should be given. The heart association favors the no-back-blow argument, saying that it's easier to simply teach one method. But under new rules taught in rescue courses this summer, the American Red Cross officially says yes to the back blow debate. The group says a rescuer should first use back blows, and then move to the Heimlich maneuver to help a choking person. But even the Red Cross itself seems to be on two different pages with the new rules.November 16-17, 2006 - ABC7 Chicago I-Team Special Report, The Maneuver by Chuck Goudie
December 20, 2006 - SuperStation WGN-TV, Chicago, Heimlich Maneuver Now 2nd Choice for Choking Rescue
Nov 26, 2012 - Peoria Journal Star, How to help a choking person
June 21, 2013 - Herald-Review (Decatur), Summer workshop series teaches 4-Hers basic first aid by Valerie Wells
February 28, 2014 - Chicago Tribune, Heimlich maneuver saved my child by staff reporter Ian Mitchell:
In a conscious choking emergency, where a person can't cough, speak or breathe, the Red Cross procedure is to ask the person if he or she is choking and get consent to give aid. Then administer five strong back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand, "as forceful as you deem necessary to save that person's life," (Red Cross representative Gabriele) Romanucci said.
The back blows are a less-invasive technique that might help clear the airway, so the Red Cross advises trying them first, he said.
"If that technique is not successful, then we would go to the abdominal thrust," he said.
IndianaSeptember 15, 2006 - WNDU-TV, South Bend, Guidelines for Saving Choking Victims Have Changed by Kari Huston
October 6, 2009 - South Bend Tribune, Rescue from choking - Advice varies a bit but includes abdominal thrusts for most people by Joseph Dits
September 25, 2013 - "Heimlich Maneuver" name no longer used by Jay Hermacinsk, WISH-TV (Indianapolis CBS affiliate)
August 1, 2007 - Learning the Basics by Melissa Regennitter, Muscatine Journal
KansasApril 4, 2009 - Giving Aid by Bobbie Mylnar, The Emporia Gazette Kentucky
August 22, 2007 - Choking Response Had All the Right Rescue Moves by Tom Dekle, The Kentucky Standard (Bardstown)
LouisianaJune 29, 2009 - Dealing with diet and diverticulitis problems by Dr. P. Donohue (syndicated column), The Town Talk (Central Louisiana). No longer freely available on the paper's website; same column is here. Maine
February 1, 2007 - Ellsworth American - What Is the Best Way to Help Choking Victims? by James Straub
June 29, 2009 - Dealing with diet and diverticulitis problems by Dr. P. Donohue (syndicated column), Sun Journal, Lewiston
October 12, 2006 - Cecil Whig, Red Cross Expands Choking Treatment by Jane Weaver
March 27, 2007 - Cecil Whig, Woman Claims Pet Pooch (Toby) Gave Her the Heimlich by Scott Goss
As strange as (Debbie) Parkhursts story might sound, Toby's actions actually followed the emergency measures recommended for choking victims by the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross. Both agencies recommend first aid responders use a series of five back blows followed by a series of five abdominal thrusts, otherwise known as the five and five.March 29, 2007 - WJZ (CBS-TV, Baltimore) Dog's Life-Saving Heimlich Contradicts Red Cross by Jessica Kartalija
December 14, 2013 - Pay attention, save someone's life by Michael Hartwell, Sentinel & Enterprise, Fitchburg
December 12, 2006 - The Grand Rapids Press, Backslaps Dislodge Heimlich Maneuver Here by Paul R. Kopenkoskey
Emily (Goodall) was talking to her mom about a homework project when 7-year-old Cassidy suddenly stood up, gesturing at her neck and clawing at her mouth. She was clearly choking.
...(What) Emily Goodall did next is exactly what the American Red Cross recommends: An alternating pattern of five abdominal thrusts and five backblows to dislodge the blockage, called a "five and five." After a few agonizing seconds, her sister started making sounds again from her throat, indicating air was getting through, and Cassidy worked the food out the rest of the way herself.
"As a choking rescue treatment, it (the Heimlich maneuver) is effective saving thousands of lives," acknowledged Peter Heimlich, owner of a wholesale fabric business in Atlanta. "That's not my beef.January 9, 2007 - Nurse Uses Heimlich Maneuver to Save Choking Diner by Jennifer Linn, Ludington Daily News
"The serious question is, is it the best rescue treatment for choking? The back blows are less invasive. They're not going to hurt anybody. Abdominal thrusts, aka the Heimlich maneuver, can break a rib, damage internal organs."
Peter Heimlich accuses his famous father of a 10-year misinformation campaign, touting his method while maligning back blows as death blows.
"In Europe, they've been teaching back blows followed by abdominal thrust for 30 years," said Peter Heimlich. "They never heard about it killing people. No one is being sued like mad."
Reached at his home in Cincinnati last week, Heimlich, 87, referred questions to his spokesman, Robert Kraft.
"Dr. Heimlich's maneuver has proved itself over the last 30 years because of the lives it has saved," Kraft said. Heimlich continues to assert it's a medical faux pas to use back blows to save a choking victim, he said. "Back blow drives a food deeper into the throat rather than expel it," Kraft said.
(Dr. Robert) Baratz calls that, "pure nonsense."
The Red Cross' new guidelines for conscious victims recommend first applying backslaps. If that fails to remove the airway obstruction, abdominal thrusts are recommended.
For unconscious victims, the new guidelines recommend chest thrusts, a method first recommended in a 1976 study by Dr. Charles Guildner, whose results were duplicated in a year 2000 study by Dr. Audun Langhelle.
March 21, 2008 - Choking Rescue Advice Changes; Red Cross Recommends Classes by Lisa Carolin, Ann Arbor News
One of the key messages the Red Cross wants people to know is that the Heimlich maneuver is no longer the first thing one should do to help a choking victim. In March of 2006, the American Red Cross reinstated back blows as the first treatment response..."It changed from doing abdominal thrusts to doing a combination of back blows with the victim being bent over,'' says Brothers. "You do a combination of five back blows, then have the victim stand upright for a series of five abdominal thrusts and then repeat the cycle.''November 25, 2008 - Dr. McGeorge Demonstrates CPR And The Heimlich Maneuver, WLIV-TV
McGeorge said back blows were standard rescue treatment for choking until the 1970's, when a new maneuver was described. After that, abdominal thrusts, known commonly as the Heimlich Maneuver, were considered the best rescue method for a choking person. McGeorge said the concern about back blows was that they might cause the object to become more lodged, but now opinions have shifted and a combination of techniques appears best to save a life.September 10, 2009 - Heimlich maneuver — Maneuvered out of American Red Cross by Sally Rummel, Tri-County Times, Fenton
January 26, 2007 - Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Heimlich Family Divided Over Doctor's Reputation by Kim Ode
December 19, 2007 - Red Cross Tips for Happy Holidays by Marie Plaskett, Winona County Red Cross Executive Director, Winona Daily News
October 29, 2013 - Triton school staff members use lifesaving technique — twice by Jeff Hansel, Rochester Post-Bulletin
September 19, 2014 - Waiter saves choking man's life at Winona Ground Round by Marcia Radliff, Winona Daily News
October 21, 2011 - Saving a Choking Victim by Alex Hassel, The St. Joe Channel, St. Joseph
June 24, 2012 - New smart phone app empowers, teaches skills in emergencies by Ashlea Surles, WDAM, Laurel
August 14, 2007 - Controversial Maneuver: Heimlich's claim that his famous procedure can save near-drowning victims is disputed by many, including his own son by Mike Riley, Asbury Park Press
February 27, 2010 - Quick maneuvers, North Jersey Record
October 21, 2006 - KOB-TV, Albuquerque, Red Cross Changes First Aid Training for Choking by Todd Dukart
New YorkAugust 2, 2008 - Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, Kevin Schroeder, honored by Red Cross for heroism by Bill Wolcott
January 9, 2007 - The Citizen, Auburn, First Aid Update by David Wilcox
Back blows were advocated by the Red Cross as the best way to rescue a choking victim until Cincinnati-based physician Henry J. Heimlich began a media campaign for the maneuver he invented. It was adopted by the Red Cross following a 1985 conference of the American Heart Association, whose lead the Red Cross often follows in establishing first aid guidelines. At that conference, Dr. Richard Day presented a choking rescue committee with the results of a study finding that back blows do indeed drive food further down the windpipe. The Heimlich maneuver subsequently replaced back blows as the recommended method of removing food from the throats of choking victims. However, Heimlich's son, Peter, points out that Day's research was devoid of scientific objectivity. What my father and Dr. Day failed to divulge was that my father had clandestinely funded the study and had a close relationship with Day....February 21, 2007: Maneuvering Over Heimlich by Lenore Skenazy, Creators Syndicate column via the NY Sun:
Back blows are "death blows," Dr. Heimlich declared long and loud as he lobbied for his maneuver's acceptance 30 years ago. In 1985, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop endorsed this view, dubbing backslaps "hazardous." After that, only the Heimlich Maneuver was considered kosher.February 28, 2007 - WSYR (ABC-TV, Syracuse, NY) Doctor on Call by Carrie Lazarus
What most people don't realize, Dr. Heimlich's son, Peter Heimlich, said, is that "Koop was an old friend of my father's, and he did it as a buddy favor."
October 15, 2015 -- WKBW, Buffalo, Report from state conflicts with daycare's claims by Jill Perkins
October 19, 2007 - Heimlich Family Maneuvers by W. Terry Smith, The Daily Southerner, Tarboro
August 15, 2015 - Save A Life, Maybe Your Own! by Tanya Rivera, WFMY-TV, Greensboro
OhioFIRST NEWS OUTLET TO REPORT THE RED CROSS UPDATE
August 3, 2006 - The Cincinnati Beacon (via The Wayback Machine), The Heimlich Remover: David Pepper, or the Red Cross?
November 1, 2006 - Cincinnati CityBeat, Proofreaders Are Sorely Missed by Ben L. Kaufman
November 5, 2006 - Columbus Dispatch, Red Cross Revises Tips on Helping the Choking by Misti Crane
April 2007 - Cincinnati Magazine, A New Maneuver - the circular history of a lifesaving procedure by Pamela Mills-Senn
Dr. Roger White, who chaired panel discussions on the management of foreign-body airway obstructions and who currently serves as consultant and professor at the Mayo Clinic, told me via e-mail that neither (Dr.) Heimlich's antics nor concerns over the AHA's (American Heart Association) and the ARC's (American Red Cross) reputations had anything to do with the decision (to eliminate backblows in favor of the Heimlich maneuver)....However, in a 2004 e-mail to Peter Heimlich (who corresponded with White using a pseudonym), White is significantly less blase about Dr. Heimlich's role: "There was never any evidence here," White wrote. "Heimlich overpowered science all along the way with his slick tactics and intimidation, and everyone, including us at the AHA caved in."January 21, 2013 - Heimlich maneuver's creator fights Red Cross by Cliff Radel, The Cincinnati Enquirer
January 5, 2015 - The confusing Red Cross response by Ben Kaufman, Cincinnati CityBeat
A reader gently chided me for writing that the American Red Cross “inexplicably” abandoned abdominal thrusts (the Heimlich Maneuver) as its recommended first response to choking.March 17, 2016 - Stark boy, 9, saves choking classmate by Jessica Holbrook, Canton Repository
"Inadequately explained why may be more accurate,” my reader wrote, saying the Red Cross issued a “pretty decent explanation . . . about seven years after the fact.” That’s a gentle way of saying the Red Cross let Americans believe for years that abdominal thrusts still were the best first response to potentially deadly choking after it decided otherwise.
Before the Red Cross attempt at explanation/justification, local and national Red Cross offices were unresponsive to my attempts to sort out the return to back slaps and abandonment of the “Heimlich” name for abdominal thrusts.
October 20, 2007 - Heimlich Hero Goes National by Sanne Specht & October 23, 2007 - Because We Like Ruining Your Fun, The Mail Tribune, Medford
January 9, 2012 - It’s a life-saver - Two-step technique is recommended to help a choking person by Randi Bjornstad, Eugene (OR) Register-Guard
“Based on my experience, very few people, including medical professionals, are aware of the 2006 American Red Cross update,” Peter Heimlich, who lives in Atlanta, said in a subsequent e-mail message last week. “This was a major change in U.S. first-aid guidelines, but the Red Cross didn’t issue a press release so that the media could inform the public. I’ve asked Red Cross officials why they chose not to issue a press release, but I can’t get a straight answer.”
PennsylvaniaJune 3, 2007 - Blows are Back by Jo Ciavaglia, Bucks County (PA) Courier Times:
With little public fanfare nearly two years ago, the Red Cross resurrected back blows as the first choking rescue response, reversing its long published guidelines promoting abdominal thrusts - better known as the Heimlich maneuver. The policy change has been called the most significant in decades, with major implications for emergency and first-aid education and training.March 10, 2009 - Kiski Student Saves Friend From Choking by Dr. Maria Simbra, KDKA-TV (CBS) Pittsburgh
If someone can't talk, cough, or breathe, or if they grab their throat, these are signs they are choking and can't get oxygen - a dangerous situation for the brain. With this kind of emergency, you want remember "five-and-five." Five back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand, five abdominal thrusts and then alternate between back blows and abdominal thrusts until the blockage is dislodged.
September 24, 2007 - Do You Know What to Do When Someone is Choking? There Has Been a Change in the Techniques Taught by the Red Cross by Scott Powell, The Gaffney Ledger
February 11, 2012 - Spartanburg High senior responds fast in time of crisis by Lee G. Healy, The Herald-Journal, Spartanburg
February 12, 2007 - Daily News Journal (Gannett, Murfreesboro, TN), Red Cross Recommends Back Blows Before Heimlich by Colleen Creamer
Peter Heimlich also maintains that the American Red Cross is dragging its feet in getting the information out about the new protocol.
(Red Cross spokeswoman Pamela) King disagrees. At the local and national level, she said, efforts are being made to let people know. "I know I have done several media releases," said King. "Our chapters are going out to their local communities. Anyone who is trained now you are taught the new skills. So, they are in all of the new Red Cross programs. We've got materials, posters and wallet cards."
October 21, 2007 - The Tale of Choking and Wall Street by Lynn Walker, Times-Record News, Wichita Falls
May 16, 2011: Lawmakers May End Anti-Choking Poster Law by Susy Solis, NBC News, Dallas-Ft. WorthMay 20, 2011 - Choking posters in Texas restaurants may soon be a thing of the past by Cindy V. Culp, Waco Tribune-Herald
The American Red Cross teaches both techniques -- the abdominal thrust and the back blows.
"Neither of those methods are better than the other; they are all effective," said Andria Butler, an instructor of a training and preparedness class at the American Red Cross.
August 30, 2011 - Heimlich posters law discontinued by Enrique Rangel, Amarillo Globe-News
September 4, 2012 - Choking deaths are preventable by Joey Horta, Action 4 News, Harlingen, Texas
July 11, 2007 - New Emergency CPR Procedures, KUTV (CBS affiliate), Salt Lake City
In the last few years, lifesaving rescue procedures have changed. If someone was choking, we used to administer several abdominal thrusts until the object came out, but now. "Now it's a combo of back blows and abdominal thrusts," says Cheryl Gren of the Salt Lake Chapter of the American Red Cross. Five blows to the back, five abdominal thrusts, for babies, five blows to the back and five chest thrusts.
November 22, 2006 - Seven Days, Burlington, VT, Red Cross Revises Tips for Helping Choking Victims by Ken Picard
May 18, 2007 - Heimlich's Use Debated as Best Method for Aid by Jim Hall, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
The Heimlich maneuver may or may not be the best way to aid a conscious, choking adult. It depends who you talk to. Someone trained in American Heart Association techniques will recommend the Heimlich. But someone trained by the American Red Cross will tell you to give five back blows first, then do the Heimlich--if necessary. Sorry, the Red Cross doesn't call it the Heimlich anymore. They say give five "abdominal thrusts."
December 3, 2007 - Heimlich Maneuver by Patricia Murphy, KUOW-FM, Seattle public radio
November 7, 2006 - Madison Capital Times, Big Changes in Red Cross CPR Guidelines by Amy Mertz
November 24, 2006 (reposted 6/12/08) - WAOW-TV, Wausau, Experts Say: If Choking, Don't Use Heimlich Right Away!
June 21, 2010 - Anything can happen in the woods, but trust your compass by Sarah Juon, The Daily News, Rhinelander
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