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Keeping Families Safe: The Heimlich maneuver

Keeping Families Safe: The Heimlich maneuver (WKEF/WRGT)

KEEPING FAMILIES SAFE: Nine family members who were sitting down to Easter dinner in 2016 were expecting it to be a normal day.

Joyce Crowe glanced over at her new puppy Lola during the dinner and noticed she had managed to get a chicken bone, and she wanted to share the laugh with her family.

"And I started to tell everybody," she said. "And I started to breathe in, and I got chicken stuck in my throat."

Joyce said she remembers not being able to breathe or talk, but the entire family had turned their focus to the puppy.

Luckily for her, that didn't include her son-in-law Brian Orme. He happened to look back up at her, and noticed she was in distress.

"So I left the puppy, grabbed her just like this," he demonstrated. "Pulled back once, pulled back twice and out came the chicken on the table."

The family's story had a happy ending, thanks to the Heimlich Maneuver made famous by Dr. Henry Heimlich more than 40 years ago.

Choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional dead, and about 3,000 of the 5,000 people who died from chocking in 2015 were older than 74. So how do you keep your family safe?

Carolyn Osborne teaches basic first aid, which includes the Heimlich maneuver, at the Coffman YMCA. She said in order to perform the maneuver on someone, you want to brace yourself by putting your foot between theirs, reach around and locate their belly button. You should then make a first with one hand, and then pull in and up with hard thrusts.

It's a little different if an infant is choking. Instead, you should straddle them on their forearm with their head lower than their feet. Osbore said to hit their back 5 times with the palm of your hand in the middle of their shoulder blade. If the object blocking their airway doesn't come out, flip the child over and do five chest compressions until the object is removed.

If the person falls unconscious, you will need to perform CPR.

The YMCA offers classes on basic first aid that includes both the Heimlich and CPR.

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