Know how to save a life

Thanks to training and quick action in Winfield on March 30, a choking death was prevented. Devin Smith, a pharmacist, performed the Heimlich maneuver on Todd Fetter after food became lodged in Fetter’s windpipe.
According to the National Safety Council, an average of 5,000 people die each year from choking. Many of those deaths could have been prevented with the right knowledge and training, the kind of knowledge and training that both men possessed.  
Unable to speak, Fetter approached Smith and gave the universal distress signal for choking byplacing both hands to his throat to indicate to Smith that he was choking. Thankfully, Smith recognized the signal and took action quickly.
How many people reading this can say with certainty they would have recognized the signal and known what to do? If the above statistic is any indication, not nearly enough.
With the grilling season upon us, it’s important that everyone should know what to do in the event of a choking emergency--know the choking sign and become trained in the Heimlich maneuver. If food becomes lodged in your windpipe, indicate to the nearest person that you are choking by clutching your throat with both hands.
If you see that someone may be choking, ask, “Are you choking?” and “Can you speak?” If someone is choking, tell another person to dial 911 as you administer the Heimlich maneuver. To perform the maneuver, according to the American Red cross: Stand behind the person. Place one foot slightly in front of the other for balance. Wrap your arms around the waist. Tip the person forward slightly. If a child is choking, kneel down behind the child. Make a fist with one hand. Position it slightly above the person's navel. Grasp the fist with the other hand. Press hard into the abdomen with a quick, upward thrust — as if trying to lift the person up. Perform between six and 10 abdominal thrusts until the blockage is dislodged.
Reading these words may help, but training is best. Contact your local fire department to ask about the first-aid training and classes they offer. They are more than willing to help.
And if you invite your friends and neighbors over for a cookout this grilling season, it’s important to have the courtesy to know what to do in case they get choked, because if you don’t know what to do, they may not come back to your next cookout.