Friday, June 5, 2020
US flag

Obituary: Dr. Heimlich; invented 1st aid for choking

Hector Diaz, a third grader at Golden Gate Elementary School in Naples, Florida, was recognized on December 5 in a “Do the Right Thing” ceremony in Collier County for performing the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge a bit of food that was choking a classmate as he ate lunch earlier this year. Hector had seen the maneuver on TV and didn’t hesitate, while other students went to bring adults to the cafeteria.


(American Red Cross)

Today, Dr Henry J Heimlich, the man who developed the Heimlich maneuver, died at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati after suffering a heart attack at his home on December 12, the New York Times reports. He was 96.

The maneuver has been taught in schools, on posters inside restaurants, and on TV, and it has saved untold thousands of lives every year since the American Red Cross and American Heart Association first recommended its use in the mid-1970s.

The exact number isn’t known, since many people rescued with the maneuver don’t report it; sometimes parents perform the maneuver, modified for infants, on their children right at the dinner table, breathe a sigh of relief, and just don’t make an official report for the sake of statistics.

The maneuver was at first dismissed, since it can result in injuries, such as broken ribs, if performed improperly. Then, between the mid-1980s and about 2005, it was recommended as the first defense against choking, but since about 2005, healthcare providers like the Mayo Clinic recommend giving five back blows first, then using the Heimlich maneuver, and then repeating those two until the food is dislodged and the person starts breathing again.

During his career, Dr Heimlich developed other procedures as well and holds a number of patents. But he is mainly known for the anti-choking “abdominal thrusts” used ubiquitously to save lives that would otherwise be lost during the everyday activity of eating dinner.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Voxitatis congratulates the COVID Class of 2020

2020 is unique and, for high school graduates, different from anything they've seen. Proms, spring sports, & many graduation ceremonies are cancelled. Time for something new.

Vertical addition (m3.nbt.2) math practice

3rd grade, numbers and operations in base 10, 2, 3-digit vertical addition practice problem

Rubber ducks (m3.oa.1) math practice

3rd grade, operational and algebraic thinking, 1, rubber ducky modeling practice problem

Distance learning begins as Covid-19 thrives

What we learn during & from coronavirus, a challenging & imminent crisis, will provide insights into so many aspects of our lives.

Calif. h.s. choir sings with social distancing

Performances with the assistance of technology can spread inspiration across the globe even as the coronavirus spreads illness and disease.

Families plan to stay healthy during closures

Although schools are doing what they can to keep students learning and healthy during the coronavirus outbreak, that duty now shifts to parents.

Illinois temporarily closes all schools

IL schools will be closed on Tuesday, March 17, through at least March 30. Schools in 18 states are now closed due to coronavirus.

Coronavirus closures & cancellations

Many schools are closed and sports tournaments cancelled across America during what the president called a national emergency: coronavirus.

Coronavirus closes schools in Seattle

The coronavirus pandemic has caused colleges to cancel classes, and now Seattle Public Schools became the nation's first large district to cancel classes due to the virus.

Most detailed images ever of the sun

A new telescope at the National Solar Observatory snapped the most detailed pictures of the sun's surface we have ever seen.

Feds boost Bay funding

Restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed received a boost in federal funding in the budget Congress passed last month.