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The Heimlich Maneuver

March 16, 1986|BOB SECTER | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The article on the Heimlich maneuver brought back a terrifying but wonderful memory to me of a luncheon meal in Canada.

My husband and I and our two children were just starting lunch. Everyone at our table was absorbed in eating, except me. A piece of lettuce had caught in my throat and I was choking, unnoticed, at first by my dinner companions, although I was reaching and trying to grab my husband's arm. My children, who were sitting across from me, were very young and not aware of the imminent disaster.

All at once, I felt two arms around me and a strong, hard push in the center of my body and suddenly I could breathe. By this time my husband was standing next to me, white as a sheet. Leaning over me and earnestly checking to see that I was all right was our waitress.

I learned, from the waitress, that all restaurant personnel must know the Heimlich maneuver. At least that's true in Western Canada.

We'VE siNce Discovered that I am subject to throat spasms. My husband has, on more than one occasion, used the Heimlich maneuver to assist me. I have not found a restaurant in Los Angeles whose staff can help in an emergency when a customer is choking. Given the fact that this must be commonplace and certainly more likely to occur in a restaurant than anywhere else in public, doesn't it seem that this should be an on-the-job training requirement?

CAROL ROWEN

Tarzana

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