The Heimlich Maneuver Saves the Day

Had a bit of a scary situation this past weekend. I was with the fam at a barbecue when MC started making some very strange sounds. At first I thought she was just playing or screeching, but it was clear within seconds that she was in distress and having a lot of trouble breathing. Denisa had been feeding her small pieces of mango right before, so it seemed likely MC was choking.

I’ve always been surprised at how different emergencies are in reality than what you’d expect them to be. On television and in the movies, you’ve got lots of visual and aural cues to get you prepped for an emergency. It’s been foreshadowed ahead of time. You’ve got tense music going in the background. Plenty of stuff to prepare you as a viewer for what’s going to happen.

It doesn’t happen like that in life. In real life, one minute you’re sitting there munching on a hamburger, and the next your fourteen month old daughter is close to choking to death. I looked around quickly for help, amazed that everyone else at the event could just be living their lives while I was in panic mode. (Not their fault–no one else knew what was happening. Again, no tense music to tip them all off, right?)

I picked MC up, turned her around in my arms so she was facing away from me, supported her body with one hand, and then did a mini-Heimlich maneuver on her. Two thrusts was all it took for the piece of mango to come shooting out, and from there Denisa and I shifted into “comfort your upset baby” mode.

Crisis averted.

That’s the second time I’ve used the Heimlich Maneuver in my life. Both times I feel like I potentially saved a life, and in conversations with Denisa after the fact I realized that she didn’t know how to do it. It’s something so simple, and I’m amazed it can be the difference between someone living and dying. (At the same time, I was intrigued to see as I did a bit of research for this post that there’s some debate as to whether the Heimlich is really the way to go in choking situations. Apparently it can cause internal damage. I’m not a medical professional (so my advice on this is just my own personal experience), but I know that because the maneuver is so simple, it’s been easy for me to remember. Like I said, I feel like it’s saved two lives now. It still gets my thumbs up.

In any case, I thought I’d pass on a few videos to you, just as a reminder about what you can do when someone’s choking around you. I hope you never need to know, but knowing is much better than not. I know I’ve got some medical professional types who read this blog. Anyone have anything to add?

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