Last weekend, my husband and I were with our two sons in the Wisconsin Dells eating breakfast in a restaurant when I began to choke on my food. I felt it go down the "wrong pipe" and realized that I couldn't breathe. I couldn't cough it out. I tried to take a breath and instead made a horrific noise of not-enough-air-getting-down. I was choking.
What happened next was a blur of sheer panic. With my boys watching, my husband and I stood up and I pointed at my throat- but it was the fear in my eyes that told him I was choking. I couldn't talk, I couldn't cough, I couldn't breathe. He immediately said, "I'm going to do the Heimlich, ok?" and I shook my head, yes. Please. Do something. I can't breathe.
My husband tried once, twice, but nothing was happening. I was still making horrible noises, trying my best to get some air in so I could cough the food out, but I just couldn't.
At that moment, (as I was worrying about all of the worst thoughts about what would happen next), a man at the next table stood up and asked if he could attempt the Heimlich on me. My husband stepped back, and the man stepped behind me. With 2 swift pushes on my upper abdomen, the food was dislodged and I could cough and breathe, and cry.
I threw my arms around this stranger and thanked him profusely. He kept telling me to drink water and get some good breaths in, which I could finally do. This man- who was having breakfast with his wife and daughter- was a hero. And, as it turned out, he was a certified EMT. He was trained in the Heimlich maneuver, though he told us that it was his first time ever actually doing it.
I had angels watching me. I realized that I was the luckiest person in the world that day.
The Heimlich maneuver, as it turns out, is a fairly easy concept... but you have to know the right way to do it. If you take a basic CPR class, offered by the Red Cross, you can learn this technique and practice on a mannequin to make sure you're doing it correctly. The Buffalo Grove Fire Station offers basic CPR classes on the first Thursday of every month from 6:30pm-10pm. The course costs $50 per person and teaches not only the Heimlich maneuver, but also CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation).
Although I had taken CPR courses in the past, I don't know today if I could actually save someone's life... My husband, boys, and I have signed up for the next CPR class at the Buffalo Grove Fire Station so we can be better prepared to save a life, God forbid we ever need to.
Please, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the Heimlich Maneuver. Watch some Youtube videos. Sign up for a CPR course at the Buffalo Grove Fire Station or Red Cross. Read some easy articles which give a step-by-step "how to" of the procedure, such as this one http://www.ehow.com/how_14949_heimlich-maneuver.html . Teach your children, your friends, and your family. You will hopefully never need to use it, but please understand how important it is to learn it... just in case.
Thank you. I hope you have a happy- and healthy!- holiday season.
Buffalo Grove, IL