Heimlich Maneuver for Drowning Victims: Progress in Ending It?

Categories: Cover Story

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The Heimlich maneuver: controversial for drowning victims.
We've written before about the Heimlich maneuver being pushed as an aid to drowning victims, and the problems a lot of people have with that.

It makes things worse rather than better, critics argue.

Leading the charge is Peter Heimlich, son of Dr. Henry J. Heimlich, who the maneuver is named for.

Now, he reports, the Heimlich Institute "has finally quit circulating my father's dangerous, thoroughly discredited medical claims."

The institute's Web site has, he says, "deleted its main pages recommending the Heimlich maneuver as an effective treatment for drowning rescue, to stop asthma attacks and to treat cystic fibrosis."

"I'm relieved," he tells Hair Balls.

"His claims were based on nothing but a handful of skimpy cases in which near-dead drowning victims were 'miraculously revived' by the maneuver," he says. "Despite such thin evidence, for decades The New York Times, CBS News, Inside Edition and scores of other media outlets gave him a platform to urge the public to perform the Heimlich on people who were drowning."

As we reported, one of the leading proponents was John Hunsucker, a former UH professor who "owns and serves as president of the National Aquatic Safety Company, or NASCO, the third-largest lifeguard certification agency for water parks in the country, which he runs out of his house in Dickinson."


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