Choking happens. We’ve all done it – inhaled a bite of food we meant to swallow. After a few good coughs and a sip of water, most of us recover without incident. But when food or other objects become lodged in the airway, choking can quickly turn life-threatening.
On October 16th, TVF&R Station 65 was dispatched to a choking call at a restaurant on SW Beaverton Hillsdale Highway in Beaverton. A female patron began choking on her food and family members dining with her did not know what to do.
Fortunately for her, the restaurant manager did. Laville Fendors, who has managed the restaurant for the past 25 years, successfully administered abdominal thrusts (formerly known as the Heimlich maneuver) and dislodged the food from the woman’s airway prior to the arrival of first responders.
On November 24th, the Station 65 crew returned to thank Laville for his quick action to potentially save this woman’s life during her medical emergency. He shared that over the past 25 years, he’s performed abdominal thrusts on choking patrons three other times and has made sure that his staff knows how to perform the technique as well.
He agreed to let us share his story in an effort to raise awareness about the seriousness of choking and the importance of knowing what to do. According to a recent American Red Cross survey, most choking incidents occur at home, with a high percentage also occurring in a restaurant.
“Laville Fendors is our hero,” said Station 65 Lt. Robert Petracca standing with his crew and Fendors next to the table where the woman sat. “When someone stops breathing from choking or sudden cardiac arrest, the minutes that it takes emergency responders to arrive can feel like an eternity. Citizens – like Laville – are helping bridge that gap by administering techniques that lay people can learn and perform under the right circumstances like Hands-Only CPR and abdominal thrusts.”
Petracca notes that citizens who intervene to perform Hands-Only CPR and abdominal thrusts are protected under the Good Samaritan Law.
What should you do if someone is choking?
When someone is choking but is still conscious, your goal is to open the airway as quickly as possible. Ask them if they are choking and if you can help. Then, administer a series of abdominal thrusts to help clear the airway obstruction.
Start by standing or kneeling behind the patient and wrapping your arms around his or her waist. Make a fist with one hand and place the thumb side against the middle of the patient's abdomen, just above the navel and well below the lower tip of the breastbone. Grab your fist with your other hand and give approximately six to 10 quick inward and upward thrusts into the abdomen.
Detailed information on administering abdominal thrusts to infants and adults can be found at: http://www.emergencycareforyou.org/EmergencyManual/WhatToDoInMedicalEmergency/Default.aspx?id=224#conscious_adult