Monday, March 17, 2014

Punk'd by my 94-year-old father, Chicago talk radio host tells listeners to "forget the Red Cross" choking rescue guidelines

WGN radio host Jonathon Brandmeier (source)

My father's never gotten proper credit as a master media manipulator who for decades used his charm to spin uninformed journalists.

As I told reporter Paul Teetor of the LA Weekly:
"My father is such a brilliant promoter, he could teach P.T. Barnum a few tricks."
But as a result of the dozens of media reports that exposed him as a career scammer -- for example, check out Chuck Goudie's tough ABC7 Chicago expose that aired over seven years ago -- presumably it's gotten more difficult for my father to find marks.

Also, who would consider my father -- a 94-year-old with a history of making delusional claims, who hasn't held a medical license since 2002, and who lives in a retirement community -- to be a medical authority?

Enter WGN Chicago talk show host Jonathon Brandmeier.*

Check out these clips I stitched together from Are you choking?! Dr. Heimlich is here, a March 12, 2014 interview Brandmeier and his second banana conducted with my father (with my brother Phil Heimlich on hand). In keeping with the show's yuckfest approach, I added clown horns where I spliced the clips.  

Briefly, after falling for my father's long-discredited hokum that rescuers should never use back blows to revive a choking victim, Brandmeier then imprudently advises WGN listeners to "forget the Red Cross" recommendations on how to respond to a choking emergency.

While you're at it, forget liability as well.

By the way, my father's claim that the American Red Cross is the only organization to recommend back blows is false. On the contrary, virtually every major first aid organization, including the Canadian Red Cross and the UK's St John Ambulance recommends performing back blows as the first response to choking.

In other words, Dr. Maneuver is clueless about his own claimed field of expertise.

And just after the 2:00 mark, my father recommends performing "the Heimlich maneuver" on choking infants. That treatment has never been recommended by any legitimate first aid agency because it may result in serious harm.

What if a WGN listener follows his advice and hurts a baby?

That's one of the questions I'll be asking the Tribune Company -- they own WGN.

They also own the Chicago Tribune which a few weeks ago published a well-researched first-person article by Ian Mitchell that included:
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 instructor 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 (aka Heimlich maneuver)," he said.
"Less-invasive" = Less potentially harmful.

What sort of potential harm?

See Case reports of complications from “the Heimlich maneuver,” a list I compiled of about 40 medical journal articles.

Finally, there's this clip in which Brandmeier & his sidekick guffaw about the hilarious concept:

What if the great Dr. Heimlich himself actually performed "the Heimlich" on a choking victim? Wouldn't that be a hoot?

When Brandmeier asks if that ever happened, my father replied, "I have not been in that position."

Punk'd by a nonagenarian!

Click here for the full article and other news outlets that ran with the story (BBC, New Yorker, etc.)

* CORRECTION (4/18/14): The audio of the interview is posted on the website of WGN-FM, so I assumed it aired on that station. After posting my item, I was informed by Tribune Radio Vice President Todd Manley that, in fact, the show aired on sister station WGWG-LP, 87.7FM. As of today, there's no indication of that on the website, hence my error.