Saturday, February 24, 2018

My complaint against Akron Fire Department EMS officer who instructed FOX-TV Cleveland audience not to worry about breaking a baby's bones when responding to a choking emergency


February 21, 2018

Stacey Doty
Employment and Selection Manager
Department of Human Resources
The City of Akron, OH

Dear Ms. Doty:

This is a complaint re: questionable, possibly harmful medical recommendations made by Joseph Shumaker, EMS Lieutenant at your city's fire department. I'm requesting that your office investigate the following
and to provide me with a determination.

Re: my February 14 blog item, Akron Fire Dept. EMS trainer re: responding to choking infants: Don't worry about breaking the baby's bones or cracking its ribs -- and a question for criminal attorneys, the following is from an interview that Lt. Shumaker, representing your city, gave to reporter Adrienne Dipiazza in a news report that aired February 13 on Cleveland's
FOX 8, How to save a life: Help someone who is choking:
DiPiazza: (The Akron Fire Department's Lt. Joe) Shumaker says don’t be afraid of hurting the baby, and forceful motions are the only thing that will help them breathe again.

Shumaker: “Can you cause some injury? Can you break a bone? Can you crack a rib? Perhaps, but in the end run the child will be breathing which is what we want as a result,” he said.
Per my website, in 2002 my wife and I started researching the career of my father, the late Henry J. Heimlich MD of Cincinnati, and the history of his namesake anti-choking maneuver. Since 2003 our work and my outreach to journalists has resulted in scores of mainstream print and broadcast media reports. We have never come across recommendations remotely similar to Lt. Shumaker's.

Further, Lt. Shumaker's recommendations do not appear in the guidelines of the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, the American Academy of Pediatrics, or, to my knowledge, any other legitimate source of lifesaving first aid information. Further, I'd be surprised if his recommendations are part of your city's EMS training guidelines or those of any government agency anywhere in the United States.

To the best of my knowledge, Lt. Shumaker appears to have pulled his recommendations out of thin air. If that's the case, he provided unsubstantiated medical information to a reporter. More seriously, I'm concerned that his recommendations may result in serious injuries to babies or worse.

After publishing my blog item, I brought these concerns to the offices of Fire Chief Clarence Tucker and Mayor Dan Horrigan. The former did not respond to my questions and Ellen Lander Nischt, Mayor Horrigan's press secretary, told me that her office stands behind Lt. Shumaker's recommendations. I consider those responses to be unacceptable, hence this complaint.

In order to address the matter, this is to request that you obtain and review all relevant training materials and provide me with any documentation that supports Lt. Shumaker's recommendations. In the event no such documentation exists, this is to request that your office take appropriate action.

Thank you for your time/consideration and I look forward to your reply.


Peter M. Heimlich
Peachtree Corners, Georgia 30096 USA
ph: (208)474-7283

cc: Donald Rice, Director of Human Resources