Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Fact-checking my sister, author & former journalist Janet Heimlich of Austin, TX


Via the posted comments under Detainee dies after choking on food in Saitama police station cell, Japan Today, November 5, 2018

Janet Heimlich Nov. 8 05:15 pm JST

My father, Dr. Henry Heimlich, invented the Heimlich maneuver. He passed away in 2016. He would have been distraught to hear of this case, not only because no one attempted to save the man with the Heimlich maneuver but because they used back blows, which, unsurprisingly were unsuccessful. Unlike the American Heart Association, the Red Cross tells people to use back blows as a first response for choking. The say to administer 5 back blows and then 5 Heimlich maneuvers (or "abdominal thrusts.") The trouble is, the Red Cross has never produced evidence that shows back blows are superior to the Heimlich maneuver, while the maneuver saves people's lives every day, according to press reports. One study shows that back blows can drive an object deeper into the throat. Furthermore, with the Red Cross focusing so much on back blows, no one learns that they can also use the Heimlich maneuver to save yourself (as someone above pointed out) or an unconscious or heavy person (you do that lying down). You can't use back blows to accomplish either of those things. The Red Cross should take this life-and-death matter more seriously and go back to teaching people to first use the Heimlich maneuver when someone is choking. Since a person can die in 4 minutes, seconds count.

Peter M. Heimlich Nov. 9 01:12 am JST

I caught a factual error and a half-truth in my sister Janet Heimlich's post. I've also posted links to a first-rate 2009 Australian Broadcasting documentary re: the history of our father's namesake anti-choking treatment and a thought-provoking recent blog item by a U.S. cardiologist.

The American Heart Association (and most first aid agencies worldwide) recommend back blows as an effective treatment for responding to a choking emergency. More via this page on my website http://tinyurl.com/hnuxyxs "One study shows that back blows can drive an object deeper into the throat."

Janet -- a former journalist who edited our dad's 2014 memoir http://tinyurl.com/yau8h6nd -- is presumably referring to the now-tainted study by the late Richard Day L. MD et al of Yale published by the journal Pediatrics in 1982.

Research by my wife Karen M. Shulman and me revealed that our dad, the late Henry J. Heimlich MD, clandestinely funded the study.

Prior to 2005, AHA guidelines included citations of the Day study. That year I shared our research with Jerry Potts, PhD, Director of Science at the AHA's ECC Programs. The citation has not appeared in subsequent AHA guidelines.

Because of the Yale connection, I also shared our research with veteran medical reporter Abram Katz at the New Haven Register which resulted in this 10/23/06 report http://tinyurl.com/zvesjs9

Also see this 6/7/82 thank-you letter from dad to Dr. Day which I obtained from the Yale archives http://tinyurl.com/j3n8jbk "The Heimlich manoeuvre" by Aviva Ziegler, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 7/27/09 http://tinyurl.com/y92fwr6w "A Call To Reconsider The Heimlich Experiment: Let’s Scientifically Determine The Best Approach To Choking Victims" by Anthony Pearson MD, The Skeptical Cardiologist (Dr. Pearson's blog), 8/15/18 http://tinyurl.com/ybnxkqvs 

BelCanto Nov. 9 12:26 pm JST

I'm liking where this comment section is going! 

Peter M. Heimlich Nov. 13 10:51 am JST

Via European Resuscitation Council Guidelines, Resuscitation 95 (2015) 1–80 http://goo.gl/RpE76u

...The International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR, www.ilcor.org) includes representatives from the American Heart Association (AHA), the European Resuscitation Council (ERC), the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC), the Australian and New Zealand Committee on Resuscitation (ANZCOR), the Resuscitation Council of Southern Africa (RCSA), the Inter-American Heart Foundation (IAHF), and the Resuscitation Council of Asia (RCA).

...Treatment for severe airway obstruction

For conscious adults and children over one year of age with complete FBAO [Foreign Body Airway Obstruction], case reports have demonstrated the effectiveness of back blows or ‘slaps’, abdominal thrusts and chest thrusts. The likelihood of success is increased when combinations of back blows or slaps, and abdominal and chest thrusts are used.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Quoting "liberal commentator" Bill Maher, my brother Phil Heimlich says his fellow Evangelical Christians' support for President Trump "exposes us as the shameless hypocrites we've always been." [UPDATED]

Here's the run up...

Via Heimlich maneuvers to 'radical middle' by Jason Williams, Cincinnati Enquirer, January 14, 2017: 
Phil Heimlich was the politician he's come to despise.

"I regret not showing more courage," he told Politics Extra.

It's a harsh reality Heimlich has come to grips with since he left public office 10 years ago this month.

...Heimlich, 64, has never come back to politics since that bruising and brutally expensive 2006 loss to Democrat David Pepper in the commissioner's race. Heimlich has no plans to come back, but the Republican still loves to talk politics.
Heimlich: Come on fellow Republicans, do something about Trump, Cincinnati Enquirer, June 28, 2017.

Heimlich: Republicans are sabotaging Obamacare, Cincinnati Enquirer, July 27, 2017.

Republican Heimlich: Why I am voting for Democrats this year, Cincinnati Enquirer, June 14, 2018.

Former Republican county commissioner (Phil Heimlich) blasts (Republican Congressman Steve) Chabot as he endorses Democrat (Aftab) Pureval by Chris Wetterich, Cincinnati Business Courier, October 11, 2018.

...and here's the coup de grĂ¢ce.

Clip from 'He can stop everything': Hundreds rally against Trump's new AG, fear Russia probe in jeopardy by Max Londberg, Cincinnati Enquirer, November 8, 2018:

Phil: Just to fully give you my kind of priorities. I'm also what you'd call an Evangelical. I'm a Christ follower. But...and I got something to say to my fellow Evangelicals. And I'll quote the words of a commentator, a liberal commentator. But I'll quote him but it's true. What he said was, and I agree, "Our support for Donald Trump exposes us as the shameless hypocrites we've always been."


11/16/18 UPDATE: Hat tip to an attentive reader who informed me that in 2009 Maher was the recipient of the Atheist Alliance of America's Richard Dawkins Award.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Western NY schools superintendent blocks employees, board members from communicating with me re: purchase of controversial anti-choking device, so I've asked the state education commissioner for guidance


A couple weeks ago I blogged, Olean, NY-area* school principal arranged purchase, installation, staff training of controversial anti-choking plunger device -- has he also received sales commissions?

In response to my subsequent reporting, a few days ago Tony Giannicchi, the district's superintendent of schools sent me a two-page letter that included:
Please be advised that District employees and Board members will not respond to any further communication from you, with the exception of requests for (public records)... 

That put me in a bind.

Here's why.

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.
Per a letter I received about three years ago, it's unclear if the Dechoker is approved by the New York State Department of Education.

From the same Times Herald article:
(Allegany-Limestone) Middle-High School Principal Cory Pecorella said the school district purchased two packages of the suction devices for each of the campuses.

...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.
Per my blog, it's unclear if Mr. Pecorella and Mr. Hite have a business relationship.

Finally, according to this recent interview conducted by reporter Amanda Gilbert (KWWL-TV, the Waterloo, IA NBC affiliate) with David Stilley MD, Medical Director at Iowa Department of Public Health Bureau of Emergency and Trauma Services, the Dechoker is of unproven benefit and safety.

(The interview was conducted for her May 31, 2018 report, Heimlich alternative? KWWL investigates new medical device offered to Iowa school.)

Those concerns seemed like reasonable grounds on which to request an investigation in order to determine if the Allegany-Limestone school's purchase and implementation of the devices was in compliance with applicable guidelines.

My problem? I don't know the appropriate office where to file that and per Superintendent Giannicchi's letter, if I ask him or another district employee or the school board how to proceed, they're prohibited from responding.

The only option I could think of was to request guidance from New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia -- see below. (Click here to download a copy.)

If/when I receive a reply, I'll report the results.

* 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."

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Compilation of reports/statements by medical & governmental organizations and (mostly) mainstream media reports about the Dechoker anti-choking device, now based in Denver [UPDATED 3/3/20]

 Dechoker promo video featuring Randall L. Snook MD of Lone Tree, CO

If I've missed any, please e-mail links to Peter.Heimlich@gmail.com 

For information originating from Dechoker LLC (Denver, CO) and to purchase the device, click here for the company's home page. For more information and to purchase the device, see the websites of Dechoker UK (Northampton), Dechoker Spain (Madrid), and Dechoker Sweden (Gothenburg).

Also see Caretakers Detail How “Indispensable” Dechoker Has Saved Dozens of Lives, a February 15, 2019 Dechoker LLC blog item which includes links to case reports signed by Randall Snook MD who practices at Advanced Integrative Medicine, Lone Tree, CO.

Click here for my similar compilation re: the LifeVac anti-choking device.


Resuscitation Council UK is aware that several airway clearing devices for the treatment of choking are now available in the UK. There is insufficient evidence on the safety or effectiveness of these devices for us to recommend their use, and we are concerned that the use of these devices could delay established treatments for choking; for this reason, Resuscitation Council UK does not support their use. 

Appropriately trained healthcare professionals can already use advanced techniques such as suction or laryngoscopy and forceps for airway foreign body removal. We recommend that new airway clearance devices should only be used by trained healthcare professionals as part of a formal evaluation. 

April 5, 2018 Swedish CPR Council report re: anti-choking devices by Henrik Wagner MD PhD, Jan Gelberg MD, Andreas Claesson RN PhD. Click here for original Swedish version; click here for English version via Google Translate.

April 25, 2019 statement by the Spanish Council of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation re: anti-choking devices. Click here for original Spanish version; click here for English version via Google Translate. 
The topic of foreign body airway obstruction (FBAO) was last reviewed by ILCOR in 2010, and at that time, the principal treatment recommendation was that “chest thrusts, back blows, or abdominal thrusts are effective for relieving FBAO in conscious adults and children older than 1 year.” Recently, manual suction devices (airway clearance devices) that use a vacuum to remove foreign bodies have become commercially available. These devices have not previously been reviewed by ILCOR and were included in this SysRev. The data in the peer-reviewed literature assessing the efficacy of suction-based airway clearance devices comprised just 1 case series of 9 adults, which the task force deemed insufficient to support the implementation of a new technology with an associated financial and training cost.

Effect on treatment recommendations: The treatment recommendation has been substantially updated from 2010. The BLS Task Force suggested that back slaps are used initially in adults and children with an FBAO and an ineffective cough and that abdominal thrusts are used where back slaps are ineffective (weak recommendation, very low-certainty evidence). Chest thrusts are suggested in unconscious adults and children with an FBAO. The task force suggested that rescuers consider the manual extraction of visible items in the mouth but should not perform blind finger sweeps in patients with an FBAO and that appropriately skilled healthcare providers use Magill forceps to remove an FBAO in patients with OHCA caused by FBAO. The task force suggested that suction-based airway clearance devices should not be used routinely.


August 30, 2017 determination letter from UK Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) re: Dechoker anti-choking device (via my Scribd account)


Game-changer: Dechoker medical device could end deaths by choking by Melissa Chipman, Insider Louisville October 22, 2015

FDA approves new lifesaving device based out of Louisville by Ann Bowdan, WLKY-TV, October 30, 2015

Space age to beat baldness: Health gadgets just got madder than ever... but do any actually work? by Jinan Harb, Daily Mail (UK), February 22, 2016

Can New Devices Match Heimlich to Stop Choking? LifeVac and Dechoker pose alternative to abdominal thrusts by Laura Johannes, Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2016 (Paywalled) Phil Heimlich is my older brother -- PMH
Two new easy-to-use devices work like plungers to suck out obstructions in the airway, providing another option if standard treatment—such as abdominal thrusts developed in 1974 by Henry Heimlich—fail to clear the airway, say the companies who sell them.

...Both the Dechoker, $89.95, and the LifeVac, $69.95, have a plastic mask that provides a seal over the mouth and nose while suction is provided. The Dechoker looks like a large syringe, while the LifeVac’s plunger is shaped like a small accordion.
...Skeptics include Dr. Heimlich, now 96. Such a device may not be handy in the “unexpected instance that a person chokes,” Dr. Heimlich, a retired thoracic surgeon from Cincinnati, says in a statement released by his son, Phil Heimlich. “Any action that delays use of the Heimlich maneuver or complicates the rescue can be deadly.”
Kudos to WSJ for giving thorough look at ‘Heimlich alternative’ devices for choking victims by Susan Wei PhD, Dan Mayer MD & Joya Victory, Health News Review, July 18, 2016

Anti-choking devices give piece of mind but don't replace Heimlich Maneuver by Liz Harrison, ABC30 News (Fresno, CA), September 27, 2016

Brackley man advocates ‘de-choking’ device for all nurseries and schools as alternative to back slaps by Tim Redigolo, Northampton Chronicle & Echo, March 24, 2017

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 investigative reporter 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:

Interview by KWWL reporter Amanda Gilbert with Iowa State EMS Director David Stilley MD:

Northampton care home staff save residents' life after he started choking by Carly Roberts, Northampton Chronicle & Echo, June 15, 2018*

Dechokers at A-L expected to keep kids safe by Kate Day Sager, Olean Times Herald, October 5, 2018

Heimlich’s son questions Dechoker products in A-L schools by Kate Day Sager, Olean (NY) Times Herald, November 1, 2018

Milton Keynes man’s device saves 11 people from choking to death by Paige Brown, Milton Keynes Citizen, January 17, 2019*

With 11 lives saved last year. What next for 2019…?, DechokerUK blog, January 17, 2019 (emphasis added)
We are pleased today to confirm a total number of 11 (eleven) choking deaths in the adult care sector last year were prevented with Dechoker.
Funding for life-saving product maker by Jon Robinson, Inside Media Ltd., February 11,

Care homes urged to reduce choking deaths by Jill Rennie, carehome,co.uk, May 22, 2019 (emphasis added)
According to staff at Brookholme Residential Care Homes in Chesterfield, a resident began choking and turned blue after eating a piece of bacon. Staff told a Dechoker representative in the UK that abdominal thrusts did not work, and that they believe the resident would have died without the Dechoker.

...Kerry Toulson, manager of Dudbrook Hall in Brentwood Essex said: “We recognised that one of our residents, in particular, was at serious risk of choking on her food which was a real worry.

...“Approximately four weeks after our training, a resident who we were concerned with had been assessed as requiring a fork-mashable diet. One lunchtime they choked and lost consciousness.”

When staff failed to remove the object by using traditional methods of back blows and abdominal thrusts, staff began using the Dechoker. The blockage was removed easily, and the resident recovered quickly.
Anti-choking devices: a lot of servile "journalism" and no clinical trials by Esther Samper, Hipertextual, May 26, 2019. Click here for original Spanish version; click here for English version via Google Translate

Woman passes out and is close to death after choking on food - but is miraculously saved by carer: Pensioner Ivy was unconscious by Anna Riley, Hull Daily Mail, May 31, 2019

Carers used Dechoker to save woman who choked on sausage by Emily Collis, Senior Reporter, Worcester News, August 7, 2019 (emphasis added):
Staff at a Wyre Forest care home have praised an innovative anti-choking device which was used to save the life of a resident who "turned blue" after choking on a piece of sausage.

First-aiders at Casa Mia Care Home in Far Forest turned to the Dechoker as a last resort after back slaps and abdominal thrusts failed to revive a woman who fell unconscious for between three and four minutes during dinner on July 18.

Team leaders Tracey Hemmings, aged 46, and Lorraine Swain, aged 58, say the woman, who suffers with a mood disorder which affects her mobility, "would have died" if it wasn't for the device.

..."Lorraine had already tried back slaps but that didn't work, so we started doing abdominal thrusts. When that didn't work we realised the severity of the situation and called 999.

"She was totally unresponsive and started to turn blue.

"We grabbed the Dechoker as a last resort. We have three of them in the home and were all trained how to use them last year.

..."She started breathing again. It was amazing.

"Lorraine and I both said she would have died otherwise. It was a really close call."

The resident was the 31st person to be saved by a Dechoker...
Casa Mia now wants to encourage other care homes in the area to invest in a Dechoker...
* Via the February 11, 2019 Press Gazette article by Charlote Tobitt, Blogger (Peter M. Heimlich) asks press regulator to consider sanctions against online publishers that pull articles without explanation