Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Now that my father's institute has stopped promoting the Heimlich maneuver to revive drowning victims, will these organizations continue to recommend it?

From Heimlich Maneuver for Drowning Victims: Progress in Ending It? by reporter Richard Connelly in yesterday's Houston Press:
(Peter Heimlich) reports, the Heimlich Institute "has finally quit circulating my father's dangerous, thoroughly discredited medical claims."
The institute's Web site has, he says, "deleted its main pages recommending the Heimlich maneuver as an effective treatment for drowning rescue....
His claims were based on nothing but a handful of skimpy cases in which near-dead drowning victims were 'miraculously revived' by the maneuver," he says. "Despite such thin evidence, for decades The New York Times, CBS News, Inside Edition and scores of other media outlets gave him a platform to urge the public to perform the Heimlich on people who were drowning."
As I blogged last week, the Heimlich Institute has apparently deleted every mention for drowning - dozens of pages - from its website.

Now that the Heimlich Institute has given up the ghost, will any of these three organizations follow suit?

THE NATIONAL AQUATIC SAFETY COMPANY (NASCO). This Houston-area lifeguard training company, which claims to have over 73 client organizations as of 2008, proudly takes credit for introducing "the abdominal maneuver into aquatic rescue" in 1993.

Dangerous Maneuvers, a Special Report by Kendra Kozen in this month's Aquatics International magazine, focuses on the concerns re: the Heimlich for drowning rescue and the inclusion of the treatment in NASCO's lifeguard training.

From an accompanying editorial by Gary Thill:
(There) are times when science must be paramount, particularly when going with our gut means using people as guinea pigs. That is essentially what the National (Aquatic) Safety Co. has decided to do in its use of the Heimlich maneuver for drowning rescues.

NASCO instructor Brian Cole teaches lifeguards to perform the Heimlich

THE PHYSICIANS COMMITTEE FOR RESPONSIBLE MEDICINE (PCRM). This DC-area animal rights nonprofit has been promoting the Heimlich for drowning since at least 1991.

Neal Barnard MD (source)
They produced the PSA (below), issued a press release hyping the treatment, and through the years PCRM founder/president Neal Barnard MD - a psychiatrist by training who poses in a white lab coat in the group's promotional materials - has recommended the Heimlich for drowning in news stories, in letters to the editor, and on ABC 20/20. Click here for all of that.

Why would a self-described doctors' organization recommend an unproven, thoroughly-discredited drowning rescue treatment that could seriously injure or kill people?

The answer to that question may have something to do with my father lending his famous name to PCRM to promote their agenda. He's a longtime member of their "advisory board" (advising what?) plus the group presents an award in his name, no doubt a major ego stroke for my fame-obsessed pa.

Meanwhile PCRM promotes his drowning quackery and turns a blind eye to the Heimlich Institute's atrocity experiments on AIDS, cancer, and Lyme Disease patients.

In other words, in their quest to protect animals, PCRM chose to put people at risk. An article in last year's Washington Post includes this body count:
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.
Via my website, some of the victims.

So much for "responsible medicine."

C.H.A.S.E. FOR LIFE. In the summer of 2006, I read a newspaper article in which Farley Boyle - former runway model turned founder/president of this Little Silver, NJ first aid nonprofit - claimed her daughter had been rescued from drowning by the use of the Heimlich maneuver. The story also reported that my father was on the group's board.

I then e-mailed her and explained the medical issues and dangers associated with the treatment.

In a rather overheated reply, Boyle compared the Heimlich maneuver to the Bible(!) and also stated:
We do not tell anyone to use the Heimlich in accordance with a drowning but we do provide them with an education so that if the time arrives they can make their own educated decision on how to handle the crises they are in.
However, a year later, in this June 9, 2007 WCBS-TV interview, Boyle told the interviewer that "it's crucial that you get the water out" of near-drowning victims and that rescuers should "try to expel the water using abdominal thrusts."