Clip from Police officer, firefighter team up to rescue man in canal by reporter Scott Evans, KTVB News, Boise, ID, June 25, 2014:
Via Question Triggers Probe into Drowning by reporter Harrison Berry in today's Boise Weekly:
In the late afternoon of June 23, Ada County Paramedics pulled Felix Martinez from the New York Canal.
He wasn't breathing. He had no pulse.
By the time Boise firefighter Brent Matthews dove into the canal, Martinez had been flowing with the current for an undetermined amount of time.
...Matthews said he used the Heimlich maneuver -- an emergency technique in which abdominal thrusts are repeated until a blockage is pushed out of a choking victim's airway -- until sand and other debris poured out of Martinez's mouth. Matthews then performed CPR for 25 minutes until he believed the victim had a pulse. Martinez was quickly loaded into an ambulance and taken to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.
Martinez's condition worsened; within five days, he was dead.
...Martinez, a homeless man, may not have attracted much attention prior to the incident, but because of the circumstances of his rescue, he has been the subject of a formal inquiry -- in large part because of Peter Heimlich, son of Dr. Henry Heimlich, for whom the maneuver is named.
...(Peter) Heimlich said when he first saw KTVB's report on the rescue, including the interview with Boise firefighter Matthews, he was incredulous.
"My first question was, 'What articles is [Matthews] talking about?"
Heimlich fired off a request for an inquest into the rescue and death of Martinez to the office of Mayor Dave Bieter...[Boise Weekly] confirmed that a copy of the request was received by Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenberg.
"A fireman is a city employee. He used an unapproved drowning-rescue treatment on a patient. At this point, there are no parties interested in finding out why Mr. Matthews performed this treatment on Mr. Martinez, and I think there needs to be some governmental oversight," Sonnenberg told Boise Weekly.
...Heimlich's attempts to spur an investigation by the Boise Fire Department have been successful, and an incident review is taking place so BFD can better discern the facts of the case.
Via reporter Tom Jackman's June 3, 2011 Washington Post article:
In Tampa, which has one of the highest drowning rates in the country, Dr. James Orlowski said he has documented nearly 40 cases where rescuers performing the Heimlich maneuver have caused complications for the victim. Orlowski is chief of pediatrics and pediatric intensive care at University Community Hospital in Tampa.
Click here for my compilation of reports and statements by medical and water safety organizations re: the use of the Heimlich maneuver to revive near-drowning victims.