Dr. Heimlich Himself Heimlichs Pride Back into the Streets of Cincinnati
By: Danny Murphy
Since he invented the Heimlich maneuver, Dr. Henry J. Heimlich had spent decades demonstrating the lifesaving technique on people willing to play the role of a choking victim.
But this week, Dr. Heimlich, 96, said he got to do the real thing.
He used the abdomen-squeezing maneuver on Monday night on an 87-year-old woman who was choking at their senior residence community in Cincinnati, popping a morsel of meat out of her mouth.
“I felt it was just confirmation of what I had been doing throughout my life,” he said in an interview on Friday.
After Dr. Heimlich’s lifesaving move, a public relations team working for the parent company of the residence, Episcopal Retirement Services, snapped into action, recording and distributing video interviews with the doctor, the woman he saved, and a dining room employee.
They also arranged media appearances promoting the claim that this was the first time the doctor had used the maneuver himself to save a life, although decade-old reports cast doubt on that.
The Reds’ 2-0 collapse against the Giants. Palmer tearing his ACL on the dirtiest hit in football history. K-Mart breaking his leg when the Bearcats were going to win the NCAA title. The most recent Bengals v Steelers debacle. The traumatic events that just happened to both XU and UC in the NCAA tournament. Cincinnati sports have taught us that we are cursed. But, this week in non-sports news, Cincinnatians have been given reason to celebrate.
Dr. Henry Heimlich, the man known for the most universally well known “how to save someone from choking” maneuver, saved a life this week in the Queen City. The guy who invented the maneuver we have all been taught how to use saved a life this week using his very own method. There are several crazy aspects to this story:
1. Dr. Heimlich lives here in our own city
I was blown away to learn that this medical legend lives amongst us in the streets of Cincinnati (actually in a retirement home, but still). EVERYONE knows about the Heimlich. In my opinion, it’s the most decorated maneuver in medical history, ever. I’m biased.
2. Heimlich is still alive
This strategy to dislodge food from someone’s esophagus seems so primal and fundamental that it had to be created in Neanderthal times, right? No. This shit was invented in 1974. 1974? How did it take that long to figure out socking someone in the stomach could make them spit out their half-chewed food that was blocking their airway? If I had to guess before hearing about this, I would’ve said Heimlich was long dead and this legacy of Heimliching had lived on for centuries passed on from food eaters generation to generation.
3. Lastly, and most mind-blowingly, this was the first time Heimlich used his own maneuver
And at 96 years old?! That’s like Kenny Sailors (the inventor of the jump shot) inventing the jump shot and shooting granny style his whole life until he was playing on the intramural team at his retirement village. Just flat out unbelievable.
I guess I’m sort of blown away also by the fact this maneuver wasn’t created on the spot. Like I pictured this having been created because someone was choking and the gut instinct was to just sock ’em in the stomach…boom, they cough out their food. I thought Heimlich created the move in the moment, but no, this was created by years of meticulous study about how to dislodge food from the esophagus. This maneuver is sacred. Also, a fellow PUP Lister pointed out how terrifying it had to be to eat before this was created. Before 1974, if you’re choking on your dinner, you’re dead.
Definitely pouring one out for Heimlich this weekend for creating a new sense of pride in the Queen City.
P.S. check out him doing work in his prime