Friday, October 26, 2018

Olean, NY-area* school principal arranged purchase, installation, staff training of controversial anti-choking plunger device -- has he also received sales commissions? [UPDATE: Responses from NY State Sen. Catharine Young & Assemblyman Joseph Giglio]

UPDATE, 10/29/18: Per my item below, in an 8/24/18 e-mail, Olean, NY fireman/Dechoker vendor Timothy Hite claimed he had an 8/30/18 meeting scheduled with NY State Sen. Catharine Young & Assemblyman Joseph Giglio "to start writing legislation to make it mandatory for all eatery areas to have a Dechoker (anti-choking plunger device), kind of like NY did for first aid and CPR." 

In response to my inquiries, today Sen. Young's spokesman John Eberth left me a voice message and Assemblyman Giglio sent me an e-mail. Both confirmed the meeting took place but that no legislation is pending.


Via Dechokers at A-L expected to keep kids safe by staff reporter Kate Day Sager, Olean Times Herald, October 5, 2018:
(Tim) Hite, a professional firefighter, now promotes the Dechoker life-saving medical device which is used to suction objects from the airways of toddlers, children and adults.

Recently, Hite sold several sets of the Dechokers to the Allegany-Limestone Central School District, the first school district in the state to purchase the items.

Middle-High School Principal Cory Pecorella said the school district purchased two packages of the suction devices for each of the campuses. Each package contains three Dechokers in adult, youth and toddler sizes. The packages will be kept in the nurse’s office and the cafeteria.

...“What it does is it replaces the abdominal thrust” which was previously referred to as the Heimlich maneuver, Hite explained. “It creates a negative pressure in the mouth area as you pull back and it forces the object out in reverse.”

...Pecorella said he learned of the device from Hite, whom he serves with in the Allegany Volunteer Fire Department.

“(Hite) contacted me and wanted to demonstrate the product for us,” Pecorella said. “We bought right into it. We have something that’s going to keep our kids safe and a better way to locate an object in someone’s throat.”
Pecorella sad he or Hite will train the faculty and staff how to use the items.

Along with some other quick questions I sent yesterday, per these e-mails I obtained via a public records request, I asked principal Pecorella if he'd received any commissions selling the Dechoker.


I also asked whether he'd seen any of these media reports about the Dechoker, published months before he arranged purchase of the devices.

Can New Devices Match Heimlich to Stop Choking? LifeVac and Dechoker pose alternative to abdominal thrusts -- LifeVac and Dechoker pose alternative to abdominal thrusts by Laura Johannes, Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2016.

Anti-choking device business raided, accused of investment scheme by investigative reporter Matthew Grant, FOX46-TV News, Charlotte, NC, March 12, 2018.

'Dechoker' anti-choking device claims to save lives but has never been tested on humans by Jackie Callaway, WFTS-TV News, Tampa, FL, May 21, 2018.

Heimlich alternative? KWWL investigates new medical device offered to Iowa school by Amanda Gilbert, KWWL-TV News, Waterloo, IA, May 31, 2018; click here for the video.

Also from Ms. Sager's Times Herald article:
Tim Hite remembers a time when he tried to help a man who was choking on a sandwich, but couldn’t save him...During one incident in his hometown of Camden, he and other emergency personnel couldn’t help an older individual who was choking. The man, who was disabled, had tried to eat two peanut butter sandwiches at once, causing him to choke.

By the time we got to him, he was already in cardiac arrest” and died, he lamented.

..."(The) Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office has a first aid kit with an adult size (Dechoker) in it at their dispatch center.”
Yesterday I sent some quick questions to Mr. Hite asking for more details about the choking death and the placement of the Dechoker in the Sheriff's dispatch office.

Per Mr. Hite's August 24 e-mail (copied above) I'm also curious about his meeting with New York State Senator Catharine Young and New York State Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, so I'll inquire about that.

I'll report the results of my inquiries in a future item.

Via my records request to the school district, here are price quotes for the Dechokers from Mr. Hite's company, C3 Safety Products LLC:

* My original headline began "Olean, NY school principal..." H/T to a knowledgeable reader who informed me "Allegany-Limestone Central Schools are not Olean schools. The two districts abut each other, but are separate," so I changed to "Olean, NY-area." 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Deja vu all over again? Another UK paper -- the Northampton Chronicle & Echo -- disappeared another iffy choking rescue story so I've filed another IPSO complaint

Last month IMediaEthics published a solid report by ace reporter Sydney Smith about how in January a couple of leading UK newspapers published -- but then promptly "disappeared" -- a bogus choking rescue story and how my efforts resulted in both papers cleaning up the mess.

One of papers (the MailOnline) held out for eight months(!) and only agreed to address the problem after I filed a complaint with UK's Independent Press Standards Organisation.

Via IPSO's website:
We hold newspapers and magazines to account for their actions, protect individual rights, uphold high standards of journalism and help to maintain freedom of expression for the press.
In what may be a journalism first, today I filed another IPSO complaint against another UK newspaper which "disappeared" another article about another questionable choking rescue.

This one involves a controversial anti-choking plunger called the Dechoker. As it happens, the company's UK distributor claims that since the beginning of the year, this unapproved experimental  gadget has saved the lives of six -- I repeat, six -- elderly choking victims in nursing homes around the country.


Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)
Gate House
1 Farringdon Street

To whom it may concern:

This is to request that your agency investigate IPSO member organization the Northampton Chronicle & Echo for publishing and subsequently scrubbing an online news report after being informed that the story was problematic and possibly a hoax. Almost four months since publication and three months after the paper's editor claimed he had initiated an investigation, the article is still missing from the paper's website.

On 15 June 2018, Northampton care home staff save residents' [sic] life after he started choking by staff reporter Carly Roberts was published on the paper's website. Here's the complete text:
An Airway Clearance Device (ACD) made by a Northampton-based business has helped to save a second care home resident from choking to death.

Resident at Timken Grange care home in Duston, Bryan Kett, 87, was enjoying lunch when he began to choke on a piece of food, which had become stuck in his airway.

Care staff immediately stepped in to assist, and when the obstruction proved firmly stuck, they reached for their Dechoker. Within moments the piece of food had been removed and the resident recovered almost immediately.

“Choking is responsible for around six care home deaths every month,” said Matt Oakley, director at Dechoker UK. “We are both pleased and proud that once again Dechoker has been shown to be effective in a choking emergency.”

The home has Dechoker devices on every floor with their care teams comprehensively trained both how and when to use them.

The product resembles a large syringe attached to a gas mask. It is placed over their mouth and the operator then pulls the suction pump, creating a vacuum and extracting the item from their throat in a short time.

Staff at Dechoker say the effects of a choking death are far-reaching. Initially, there will be an emotional impact on the other residents and staff having to have dealt with and witnessed a very traumatic incident.

Choking is regarded as an unexpected death and as such there will be a Coroner’s investigation, which often takes many months. Not forgetting, throughout this entire process the family and friends of the resident are having to come to terms with both the cause of death and the ongoing implications as a result.

Timken Grange Home manager Rachel Cadd said: "We are delighted that our carers have been trained and are comfortable with using the Dechoker.

"We are confident that we would not hesitate in using the device again should the occasion arise.”
Based on my research/reporting and a string of investigative reports by U.S. journalists* about the Dechoker device -- which were published online before Ms. Roberts' story and which she could have easily located -- I had serious questions about the accuracy and competency of her reporting, so on 22 June I e-mailed her an inquiry and copied editor David Summers. I didn't receive a reply so on 25 June I re-sent my inquiry.

I didn't receive a reply to that either, so I sent a 19 July inquiry to Mr. Summers detailing some of my concerns:
Among other information missing from Ms. Roberts' poorly-reported article: the date of the alleged incident and what type of food the victim allegedly choked on; the names of the alleged rescuers and any eyewitnesses; quotes from the alleged rescuers, from Bryan Kett or from any members of his family or his legal guardian; whether or not Mr. Kett received subsequent medical care and the name of his attending physician; and no information about the case of the first care home patient allegedly saved from choking to death by the device.

I've made best efforts to verify the above information, including: multiple inquiries to Ms. Roberts (on which you were copied, see below my signature); inquiries to executives at Timken Grange and to Matt Oakley.

No replies were received from Ms. Roberts or from the Timken Grange executives. Mr. Oakley refused to provide any information about the reported incident and would not even provide me with the name(s) of the Timken Grange employee(s) who informed him about the alleged incident. Further, it's unclear if Mr. Oakley ever attempted to verify any of the facts or interviewed anyone associated with the case.

Further, multiple attempts to contact Bryan Kett, members of his family, and his legal representative were unsuccessful. Further, employees at Timken Grange would not even confirm that they have a resident named Bryan Kett.

Long story short, I haven't been able to obtain any substantiating evidence that the incident your paper reported took place. And based on Ms. Roberts' incompetent reporting, how can your readers be certain that she didn't get punk'd?
I didn't receive a reply so I sent him a 23 July follow up to which I received a polite same-day reply.

As I was preparing to respond to that, I discovered that sometime between 19 July and 23 July, Ms. Roberts' article had been scrubbed from the paper's website and the URL at which it was posted now redirected to the paper's home page I included that information in my 23 July reply to Mr. Summers.

In his next-day reply, without explanation Mr. Summers claimed he was "not in a position" to do any fact-checking of the story and that, "In relation to the article no longer appearing online, it is standard practice to remove articles, as a neutral act, while investigations are carried out." Copies of our e-mails are posted here

Since then I've provided Mr. Summers with considerable related information, including this 23 September 2018 investigation request I filed with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) According to all published information about the alleged choking rescue at Timken Grange, staff violated this 30 August 2017 MHRA directive re: the acceptable use of the device

In my opinion, the information I provided to Mr. Summers -- which included the investigative reports copied below my signature -- would persuade any responsible journalist to take a closer look at the case. At minimum, why wouldn't he at least attempt to verify whether or not Timken Grange actually has a resident named Bryan Kett?

Instead -- and this appears to be the extent of Mr. Summers' "investigation" -- he sent me a Timken Grange press release which was the basis of Ms. Roberts's 15 June 2018 report.

But even that's problematic. The press release -- issued by Sian Ellis, marketing Director at Oakdale Care Group, Timken Grange's parent corporation -- is dated 6 July 2018, three weeks after Ms. Roberts' article was published.

I received no indication that Mr. Summers or any other Chronicle & Echo staffer asked Ms. Ellis for any further information. On the contrary, the paper seemed determined to avoid obtaining additional information -- a peculiar approach to journalism, to be sure.

I, on the other hand, sent multiple e-mail inquiries to Ms. Ellis last month in an attempt to verify the information she provided to the Chronicle & Echo. (I copied Mr. Summers.) Despite receiving multiple confirmations of receipt, I didn't receive any responses

In any event, Ms. Roberts' article is still M.I.A., but I've attached a pdf copy. Here's a link to direct download a copy

It's unclear what's going on at Timken Grange and the Chronicle & Echo -- Ms. Roberts and Mr. Summers certainly don't seem inclined to find out -- but perhaps filing this complaint with your agency will produce more information.

Thanks for your time/consideration and I look forward to your reply. If you require any additional information and/or records I might be able to provide, please don't hesitate to ask.


Peter M. Heimlich
Peachtree Corners, GA 30096 USA
ph: (208)474-7283
Twitter: @medfraud_pmh

* 12 March 2018: Anti-choking device business raided, accused of investment scheme by Matthew Grant, 12 March 2018, FOX46 Charlotte North Carolina

26 March 2018: "Growing pains" for company selling anti-choking device? NC state "investment scheme" investigation & three debt collection lawsuits, one filed by former top executive, The Sidebar (my blog),

21 May 2018: 'Dechoker' anti-choking device claims to save lives but has never been tested on humans by Jackie Callaway, ABC Tampa Florida

31 May 2018: Heimlich alternative? KWWL investigates new medical device offered to Iowa school by Amanda Gilbert, 31 May 2018, NBC Waterloo Iowa: Complete interview with Iowa State EMS Director David Stilley MD