You’ve probably heard of the Heimlich Maneuver, a procedure commonly used when someone is choking on food. What may surprise you is that the procedure is also being taught by at least one lifeguard training agency to respond to drownings. The National Aquatic Safety Company, or NASCO, which trains lifeguards at four New Jersey waterparks, has been criticized for using a procedure that has been condemned almost universally in the medical community, including by the American Red Cross.
...Despite frequent opposition from the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association and other groups, NASCO continues to use the procedure. But what’s even stranger is that waterparks that have been criticized in the past for using the procedure, defend NASCO. Lou Cirigliano is the Director of Operations at Breakwater Beach, a waterpark in Seaside Heights.
“Just because the Red Cross has one opinion, that’s not the final answer. You’re gonna go to get open heart surgery, you’re probably going to go to two doctors who give you two different opinions. We use NASCO. Our park’s safety record speaks for itself. NASCO’s safety record speaks for itself.”
Asked whether it is worth the risk to continue using NASCO in spite of the controversy…
“If you want to talk to talk to NASCO, I’m going to direct you to them.
...I tried for several weeks to get in touch with NASCO before I finally got through to the company’s founder, John Hunsucker who told me they do not give interviews and I am wasting my time, right before he hung up on me.
"HEY, DR. HUNSUCKER? HOW ARE YOU, SIR? MY NAME IS JOEL EISENBAUM."
DR. JOHN HUNSUCKER RUNS NASCO OUT OF HIS HOME IN DICKINSON AND THE COMPANY FOUNDER ANSWERED OUR QUESTIONS LIKE THIS.
"YOU'RE DUMBER THAN DIRT. YOU'RE IGNORANT. ARE YOU STILL SLEEPING WITH SOMEONE OTHER THAN YOUR WIFE?"
BUT THE INSULTS WEREN'T JUST AIMED AT US. HERE'S WHAT DR. HUNSUCKER, WHO IS NOT A MEDICAL DOCTOR, HE THINKS OF THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
"THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING. THEY'RE 1970s PROTOCOL."
Click here for my compilation of media reports about NASCO's "Heimlich protocol."
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.
This item has been slightly updated.