Friday, November 13, 2009

A Maneuver that could save your Life

On the recent babysitting posting a comment was made that parents don't know the Heimlich Manouver, so why require babysitters to learn how to do it. Let me answer this one briefly, as a long time member of Hatzoloh. EVERY parent should know how to do the Heimlich Manouver. Yes, and they should know basic CPR as well.

No one gets to pick and choose if or when an emergency will arise where they are present, nor do they get to pick and choose the emergency. By definition an emergency is unexpected. How quickly you react in an emergency can make the literal difference between life and death, between full recovery and lasting damage.

All humans eat, and when they do so they run the risk of choking. Younger children in particular will often eat while running around and talking at the same time, raising their risk of choking. Both adults and children may be in a hurry and try to gobble down food without chewing it properly, leaving larger chunks that are being swallowed. In short, a choking risk is present in everyday scenarios.

There are any number of posters clearly showing what to do for someone who is choking. Get online and type in "Heimlich Maneuver Posters" and a number of sites providing the posters will pop up. Here's my recommendation--every home should have such a poster and in a place where it can easily be gotten to. And don't just put the poster away and forget about it. Have every member of your household study it.

Now about CPR. The best way to learn how to do CPR correctly is to be taught by someone. The compressions have to be deep enough and placed correctly to do some good but not so deep that damage is the only result. I would recommend that every shul, each year, present a CPR workshop for its membership. All high schools should be required to give the course. Hatzoloh might well be willing to provide the personnel to teach the courses. Of all the things we spend money on, this could be among the most worthwhile.

You think you'll never use it? Twice in the last three years a member of the Willowbrook community collapsed out on the street while walking by themselves. In both instances another person came upon them, checked for a pulse, and began giving CPR while shouting for more help. And in both cases the people who collapsed are now fine, alive and well. And in only one of the cases was the person who found the collapsed person a Hatzoloh member. The other person was someone who thought it important to know CPR.

And while I'm talking about preventative measures, how many of you have an emergency phone list by the phone or phones? Such a list should obviously show 911 on it. It should also have the Hatzoloh number, the Poison Control number, your doctor's number (or doctors numbers if there are multiple medical conditions present in your household), and the number of your local hospital.

You know that old saying "better to be safe than sorry"? These are two ways to help with the safe part.


Anonymous said...

Great post. This is an important reminder. Even if you have had training in the past, the instructions for how perform both CPR and the heimlich maneuver have changed over time. It's no longer how I was taught 20 years ago.

I had to use the heimlich maneuver on someone who starting choking while eating at a party. Fortunately, the food dislodged quickly - and there was a dr. present who took over for me, but I was rusty and it could have been a tragedy.

Rae said...

Excellent advice here. My company gives a cpr course every year and we get release time for taking it. The Heimlich posters are up in the break room and by the door in every department. I've got one at home too.

Just curious. Do all yeshivas have the posters around the school buildings? Would seem to be a place that should have them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder that I need to renew my CPR. It seems silly that more people don't know the Heimlich or have the posters and don't seem interested in the CPR. None of us know when we might be the ones who could save someone and didn't or couldn't because of the lack of just a little bit of knowledge.

JS said...

I believe you're referring to my comment. To clarify, I meant that not only is important to think about whether a babysitter knows these procedures, but for parents to think about if they know what to do in an emergency. I know very few parents with this training.

ProfK said...

Hence JS the reason for this posting. Parents ought to know this information, ought to know what to do until "official" help can arrive. I never meant to imply that only babysitters need this information but that babysitters, who are there when parents are not, should be able to act in loco parentis.

Yitz said...

Really wondered how often the choking occurs that everyone needs to know Heimlich. Got my answer last night at the pizza shop. A little kid started choking when he swallowed a piece of crust whole instead of chewing it. There wasn't one of those posters up at least where I could see one. Pure luck that someone from Hatzoloh was in the shop and did the Heimlich on the kid. No one else there knew it. Was enough to convince me--I ordered a poster this morning from the Red Cross. Frum Jews aren't supposed to rely on luck and miracles.