Monday, July 30, 2012

Due diligence & damage control: a comparison between how a Virginia parks department and a Seaside Heights, New Jersey waterpark responded to critical media reports about their lifeguards being trained to perform the Heimlich maneuver on drowning swimmers

From NoVa parks authority teaches lifeguards discredited Heimlich maneuver by Tom Jackman, Washington Post, June 3, 2011:
(The Heimlich maneuver has) been utterly discredited as a way of rescuing a person who is drowning, and can actually do serious harm to someone who has just been pulled from the water, numerous experts say. 

Still, one aquatics company, National Aquatic Safety Company of Houston (NASCO), is training lifeguards to use the Heimlich maneuver. And the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority enthusiastically continues to use NASCO to train lifeguards at its five waterparks...

...The list of experts who reject the Heimlich maneuver (to revive drowning victims) is lengthy: The American Red Cross; the United States Lifesaving Association; the American Heart Association; the Institute of Medicine; the International Life Saving Federation and many experienced doctors and academics have strongly inveighed against doing “abdominal thrusts” for drowning victims.

...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.
Later that day:

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.

On July 10, WWOR-TV broadcast this report by investigative reporter Brenda Flanagan about four Jersey shore water parks whose lifeguards were trained by NASCO. The story included interviews with representatives of the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association warning against performing the Heimlich maneuver to revive drowning victims.

The next day, one of the water parks - Breakwater Beach in Seaside Heights - posted a statement on their website that included:
On Tuesday night, Channel 9 NY News ran a story on waterpark safety and the training of lifeguards in rescue methods...Some of the points made in the story are categorically untrue...

...Another issue raised in the story was the use of in-water abdominal thrusts. Our guards are taught to give five and only five quick abdominal thrusts to an unconscious victim in the water as the victim is being extricated to the pool deck.

...Please know that while media attempts to sensationalize a story for their benefit (their “experts” in the story of course sided with them, however there exists experts on the other side of the argument as well who were not interviewed for this story) , that Breakwater Beach is committed to ensuring the absolute safety of our guests.
I wanted to learn the names of the "experts on the other side of the argument...who were not interviewed for this story," so I asked Breakwater Beach.

Per the e-mail exchange below, the only name they provided was NASCO who, according to Flanagan's report, "refused to discuss anything with us." (time stamp 3:30).

Lou Cirigliano, Jr. (source)

Lou Cirigliano, Jr., Breakwater Beach general manager, defended the use of abdominal thrusts to revive drowning victims and suggested I contact NASCO president John Hunsucker PhD:
(He) might be able to refer you onto any other expert who agrees with his data. We do not specifically have anyone we know to recommend to you as we are not part of this “fight” but as I mentioned earlier, I am positive if all knew the data and the actual rescue (sic), you’d easily find people on both sides of the aisle.
I also asked him for a reaction comment to this quote from a May 2012 editorial in Aquatics International magazine:
(There) are times when science must be paramount, particularly when going with our gut means using people as guinea pigs. That is essentially what (NASCO) has decided to do in its use of the Heimlich maneuver for drowning rescues.
Cirigliano replied that he didn't wish to comment.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine campaigns against universities that conduct medical research using animals. What's PCRM's position re: violent threats and violence against university researchers? They won't tell me.


I sent the following letter via e-mail and fax on July 19th and again on July 24th.

Neal Barnard MD
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
100 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Ste.400
Washington DC, 20016

Dear Dr. Barnard,

I'd appreciate your answer to a quick question for an item I'm reporting on my blog related to the developing Camille Marino case and your organization's accusations against Wayne State University researcher Donal O'Leary PhD.

What's your organization's position re: violent threats and/or violence against researchers who use animal models?

Thanks and I look forward to receiving the information.

Peter M. Heimlich
ph: (208)474-7283
website: Medfraud
blog: The Sidebar


John J. Pippin, MD FACC, Director of Academic Affairs, PCRM
Jessica Frost, Media Relations Specialist, PCRM 

I haven't received a reply.

The board of PCRM, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that proclaims a "commitment to promoting compassion," includes at least nine medical professionals with university affiliations, including the group's founder/president, Neal Barnard MD, an adjunct associate professor of medicine at George Washington University.



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My "Smear Artist" web page - about the New Yorker mag spiking political writer Jason Zengerle's bogus Heimlich article - was part of his GQ "veep vetting"

Check out this e-mail I received a couple months ago:  

Never heard of Zengerle? Via the Swarthmore Phoenix, his alma mater's school paper:

So why would a private eye trying to dig up dirt on him reach out to me?

That's easy.

The shamus must have seen this page that's been on my website for years, The Smear Artist - Jason Zengerle's Heimlich article. It details how in 2005, when he was under contract to the New Yorker to write an article about my father, Zengerle got caught trying to pull a fast one.  

After Zengerle spent a year flying around the country doing interviews on the New Yorker's dime, Radar magazine beat him to the punch with a scorching two-part expose by reporter Tom Francis, brimming with explosive revelations about my father's bizarre career and my efforts to make people aware of his crackpot medical claims that were putting lives at risk.

At the time, Zengerle wrote me that when the November 2005 Radar article appeared, his editor at the New Yorker - Amy Davidson - was not pleased.

One reason may have been that for at least five months, Zengerle had been aware that Francis's article was in the pipeline. Per this e-mail, he even attempted to crib from Francis:

According to a January 2006 e-mail Zengerle sent me, the New Yorker then refused to publish his article.

Over two years later, after it was rejected by a string of other magazines - Zengerle told me so - the New Republic published it.

That's when I realized why the New Yorker kicked it to the curb.

In The Choke Artist: Who are the mysterious critics hunting Henry Heimlich?, Zengerle portrayed my father as a beleaguered visionary in his December years, a medical lion in winter being hounded by an ungrateful son - that would be me - making wild, unsubstantiated accusations. (Click here for a selection of mainstream media reports based on same.)

Via a 2008 Cincinnati CityBeat column by veteran reporter turned journalism professor Ben Kaufman, Zengerle's attempt to discredit me may have more to do with his family issues:
Peter Heimlich's campaign to challenge his father's eponymous "maneuver" for choking and "malariotherapy" for AIDS now includes a 2007 article by Jason Zengerle in The New Republic magazine. Among Peter Heimlich's complaints are TNR's use of outdated information and interviews, abuse of confidentiality, inaccuracies and a concealed conflict of interest in which he says Zengerle's physician wife had professional links to the elder Heimlich.
After editor Franklin Foer rejected Peter Heimlich's complaint and questions, Cincinnati lawyer H. Louis Sirkin pressed the issue with TNR. A TNR lawyer summarily dismissed both queries.
Per my "Smear Artist" page, I brought in my attorney because I caught Zengerle using fabricated documents in his attempt to dirty me up in what TNR editor Franklin Foer called "a masterful piece of writing and reporting."

It wasn't the first time Zengerle relied on bogus paper for a hit piece.

A year before, Zengerle got caught in an attempted smear job on the late Steve Gilliard, an influential political blogger, using a bogus e-mail.

That turned into an exploding cigar and got Zengerle hoisted high by Glenn Greenwald:

Presumably Greenwald missed the Swarthmore article from two months earlier or he would have used this:

But enough old news.

Remember the private eye who was peeking into Zengerle's "darker light"?

At the time I assumed he'd been hired by an attorney for a civil case. The prospect of Zengerle being served a steaming pile of legal comeuppance caused me no distress, but I didn't want to get involved, so I didn't respond.

Then last week, GQ magazine, where Zengerle is a contributing editor, published Wanna Be Veep? Okay, but This Is Going to Hurt.

From the intro:
It's veep-vetting season, and it's the most invasive process in politics. Just how squeamish does it get? We sent Jason Zengerle to one of Washington's top vetters (attorney Ted Frank) to find out if he's got what it takes to be the next (God help us all) Sarah Palin.
From Zengerle's first-person article:
But then Frank's questions take a sudden turn. We are no longer talking about my junior-year Gothic-art-and-architecture seminar. Now it's my sex life. And my drug history. And the lowest moments of my journalism career.
Hey, I know about some of those low moments. Years ago I wrote about 'em on my website. Anyone could find my "Smear Artist" page via Google, a private investigator, for instance.

Ding, ding, ding.

So last week I phoned private investigator Steve Polak who confirmed my guess.  He also verified that he'd forwarded my web page to vetter Ted Frank.

Did Frank grill Zengerle about it?

I hope so, but that's not my point.

In the ink-on-newsprint days, when a journalist chose to kick somebody, there wasn't much recourse available to the target. A letter to the editor? A rebuttal op-ed?  

Thanks to this wide open prairie of free speech called the Internet, the targets now have an opportunity to properly tell their side of the story.

Not surprisingly, some journalists don't appreciate rabble like Steve Gilliard and me kicking back.

Back to the Swarthmore Phoenix:

Consider the source, my fellow rabble. Consider the source.

Source - Zengerle interview starts at timestamp 9:15

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

FOX-TV reporter Brenda Flanagan gets Cincinnati's Heimlich Institute on record - after 40 years, they've stopped promoting the Heimlich maneuver for drowning rescue; and are four Jersey shore water parks using "people as guinea pigs"?

From an investigative report that aired last night on FOX-TV's New Jersey affiliate, WWOR:

BRENDA FLANAGAN: Swamped by complaints, Dr. Heimlich's own institute told us last week: 

Here's the complete must-see report, focusing on the National Aquatic Safety Company (NASCO), a Houston-area lifeguard training company that teaches lifeguards to perform the Heimlich (a/k/a abdominal thrusts) on drowning victims at four Jersey Shore water parks: Breakwater Beach (Seaside Heights); Thundering Surf (Beach Haven); Gillian's Island (Ocean City); and Splash Zone (Wildwood).

I'm on-camera at around timestamp 1:15, calling the Heimlich for drowning "a poison idea."

Click here for links to more published reports about NASCO and the Heimlich maneuver including a May 2012 editorial in Aquatics International magazine that includes:
(There) are times when science must be paramount, particularly when going with our gut means using people as guinea pigs. That is essentially what (NASCO) has decided to do in its use of the Heimlich maneuver for drowning rescues.
Here are the current members of the board of the Heimlich Institute:

This item has been updated.