Red Cross: Heimlich manuver works for choking. Let’s add back slaps?

In the ?what were they thinking? category: Columbus Dispatch

But the American Red Cross now calls first for back slaps, a method the Heimlich maneuver’s namesake rejects as dangerous and deadly.

Dr. Henry Heimlich, 86, lives in Cincinnati.

Rescuers should start with five back blows and follow with five abdominal thrusts (the Heimlich maneuver), repeating the sequence, advises the Red Cross, which no longer uses the name Heimlich.

Some sense remains:

Despite those findings, the Heart Association continues to teach and recommend the Heimlich exclusively, said Brianne Harman, a spokeswoman for the Columbus office. “It’s easier to teach and easier to remember,” she said. The organization favored staying with the Heimlich “in the absence of data that another procedure is superior,”

So, the Heimlich works, and they decided to add in a step before doing it.

Seems silly to me.


  1. Sounds like they’re trying to take what we do for neonates and apply it to adults?

  2. The Heimlich can work, but may not always.

  3. Nothing always works. There’s always an exception, except when you use the word always.

    And, turning adults upside down for back slaps is a big of a logistic problem, unlike the neonate.

  4. Jared Solomon says:

    I think they might be trying to overcompensate for the do-gooders who will start jacking away at the Heimlich on someone who isn’t really choking, but may have a 2% chance of being lawsuit-happy.

    So, I think it’s a defensive legal posture from overzealous people who mis-apply the Heimlich.

  5. Isn’t it funny how we are now back to doing what people did 100 years ago when someone was choking! Slap them on the back. I wonder how many people died because we simply did the heimlich?

  6. Oh I agree that flipping adults around is quite a bit more difficult than an infant! I know it’s off-topic but kinda like the benefit of the vest for cystic fibrosis – as adults with CF are a lot more difficult to flip around to do chest PT than infants!

    When I was a child (can’t remember how old – sometime between the age of 5 and 9 because it was when my family lived in St. Louis), I was playing cards with my grandfather when I suddenly choked on one of those red and white hard candies. Santa Claus had come around that morning on a fire engine…! I started hopping around the room as I could not talk, cough, breathe – nada…I’m pretty sure the hard candy had completely blocked the windpipe there! My grandfather gave me a really hard slap on the back – and out it came! Not sure if he even knew how to do the heimlich, but in that case, I’m really glad that his slap on the back didn’t cause the candy to slip farther down! Then I wouldn’t be here today to leave annoying comments on blogs! haha

  7. We’re glad, too.

  8. Really, this seems to me tinkering (the odd human desire to change things) for the sake of change, and not bacuse it’s some breakthrough in safety study.

    I’m not going to complain about back slapping, but it seems a little odd to teach a 2 stage approach.

    Just give me the Big Squeeze.