It was supposed to be an exciting Saturday night get together and for the most part, it turned out that way. But in a matter of seconds, a dinner with friends turned into a life-threatening situation when one of the guests started choking.
It was a reminder of the importance of proper first aid training, and how it can save a life.
A number of KING 5 staffers gathered on Saturday for a spaghetti dinner at the home of KING 5 employees Tait and Corrina Miller.
The food was delicious, and laughs filled the room, but a few minutes into the dinner KING 5 Reporter Alex Rozier choked. He had a single piece of meat completely blocking his airway, and he could not breathe.
At the table of nine only a few had any experience executing the Heimlich maneuver, but thankfully KING 5’s Ted Land had just completed a Red Cross CPR and first aid class and was able to perform the maneuver on Rozier, dislodging the food in seconds.
It was a wake-up call to get training and be prepared in case of an emergency.
Stephen Morris, an emergency room doctor with UW Medicine, said the first hope is that the person’s airway isn’t completely blocked. If so, call 911 and get professionals there to assist. If it is blocked, begin performing the Heimlich maneuver.
“If you are addressing someone who is choking you get behind them and you take your fist and make it into a ball and use your other hand, placing it between their belly button and their ribs, and push in and up as if you were trying to lift that person up over the ground,” Dr. Morris said. “Ideally the person would be leaning forward a little bit to let gravity assist you in this.
"If they are unfortunately by themselves when this happens they can do it to themselves in a similar way and that is to make a fist, place it in that soft area, above your belly button and below your rib cage and then put up against a chair or a table, anything that is able to provide force to push that foreign body out."
If the Heimlich maneuver is unsuccessful, CPR is the next option.
Dr. Morris hopes everyone considers the importance of training.
“It’s certainly a tragic event because it (choking) can take someone in perfect health, and it can be fatal, and it’s the type of thing that I think people should know about,” Dr. Morris said. “They should know about the Heimlich maneuver. It takes very little time to learn about it. And it may save themselves, it may save their family members, it may save a stranger, so it’s pretty important I think.”