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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cincinnati police should be properly trained for response to choking

Posted by The Dean of Cincinnati

Photo courtesy of here.

After having spent so much time with the Heimlich stories in my past, I am just tired at the notion of them these days.  I mean, haven’t we been through this?  The Heimlich Maneuver (more accurately known as abdominal thrusts) has been discredited as a first response to choking—despite the protestations of Cincinnati’s own Dr. Henry Heimlich.  We were the first to break the story back in 2006 how the American Red-Cross changed their procedure for responding to choking.  The first thing anyone does should be back slaps.  According to this story in the Enquirer, though, a city cop recently saved someone’s life by responding immediately to a choking threat with the Heimlich Maneuver. While saving a life is a good thing, does this mean the CPD trains its police to use abdominal thrusts as a first response?

Check out this greater poster from the Red Cross.

I’m curious how CPD trains its officers, so here is the open letter I’m sending to them:

To Whom It May Concern:

I saw in a recent item at the Enquirer——that a Cincinnati Police Officer recently saved someone’s life by immediately administering the so-called Heimlich Maneuver.

However, the American Red Cross has, for years now, advocated that back slaps are the first response to a choking victim.  Here’s there great poster about it:

I was wondering, therefore, if you can clarify for me how officers are trained with respect to these kind of life-saving interventions.  Are your officers trained to give the Heimlich Maneuver first, or back slaps?  And, if CPD trains officers to use the Heimlich, can you explain why?

Thanks so much!  I look forward to your response.


The Dean of Cincinnati

I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything.

Now, in case you are wondering—why fixate on this story after all these years?  Because it could be about saving someone’s life.

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  1. morning36 says:

    The American Heart Association doesn’t teach the back blow technique, only the abdominal thrust procedures. It’s OK not to use back blows, if you haven’t learned the technique. Both approaches are acceptable.

    To perform abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver) on someone else:

      Stand behind the person. Wrap your arms around the waist. Tip the person forward slightly.
      Make a fist with one hand. Position it slightly above the person’s navel.

      Grasp the fist with the other hand. Press hard into the abdomen with a quick, upward thrust — as if trying to lift the person up.

      Perform a total of 5 abdominal thrusts, if needed. If the blockage still isn’t dislodged, repeat the five-and-five cycle.

    As has been previously mentioned numerous times on this site the American Heart Association still teaches abdominal thrust

    Also the red cross still teaches abdominal thrust as part of the treatment to choking (5 back blows followed by 5 abdominal thrust till object is dislodged, the person can breath or the person is unconscious) as is evidenced by your link.  Yes, they do teach 5 back blows first but you do not mention abdominal thrust anywhere in your article- no matter which organization trains you abdominal thrust are still part of the algorithm you should follow. 

    I am glad the officer successful used a proven technique to save a life.  It is a shame that your personal hatred of the Heimlich family causes you to miss that point or to accept that there is training available that differs from your limited, non-medical knowledge base

  2. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    I wrote “first response,” not “only,” then linked to resources that showed abdmonimal thrusts as the second response.  So what are you talking about?

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