Wednesday, February 26, 2014

[UPDATED] "Heimlich Heroes" program (hyped in last week's AP article) teaches Ohio students a choking rescue treatment NOT recommended by Heart Association and Red Cross -- I've asked the OH and Hamilton County Health Departments to review the program


Via 94-year-old Heimlich maneuver namesake pens memoir by Lisa Cornwell, Associated Press, February 17, 2014:
(Dr. Henry) Heimlich now lives in an assisted-living facility but responds to emails and letters about his work and makes guest appearances with the Heimlich Heroes program. The program designed to teach young people how to use the Heimlich maneuver allows him to still pursue his passion for saving lives.
Apparently my father's passion includes teaching students to perform a first aid treatment that's not recommended by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross

Take a look at this a brief clip from a training video posted on the Heimlich Heroes website:

Voiceover: If the person falls unconscious while you're performing the Heimlich maneuver, try to ease him to the floor and put him on his back. Kneel over his hips and put one of your hands on his abdomen and put your other hand on top of the first. Then, use your full body weight to press into the victim's abdomen with a quick upward thrust.  Once the object is dislodged, immediately get your hands and arms under his shoulder and roll him to his side. You should not be surprised if he throws up. Being on his side will keep him from choking again.
Last week representatives of the Heart Association and Red Cross wrote me that their organizations do not recommend Heimlich-ing unconscious choking victims.

[Click here and page up a few lines for the Heart Association's most recent guidelines for responding to unresponsive choking victims. Click here for a pdf of a 2011 Red Cross Ready Reference pamphlet; guidelines for unconscious choking victims are on page 5.]

According to the Heimlich Heroes website, "over five hundred" students at these schools have participated in the program since last year:

It's unclear why the program is teaching a treatment that's not recommended by the AHA and ARC, but presumably everyone can agree that the students are entitled to the best available training.

So today I sent this letter to Lance D. Himes, Acting Director of the Ohio Department of Health, asking for a review of Heimlich Heroes and for the names of the medical professionals and organizations that reviewed and approved the program. (Click here to download a copy.)

[UPDATE: The next day I sent a similar letter to Tim Ingram, Hamilton County's Health Commissioner. Click here for a copy on Scribd. Click here to download a copy.]