Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 1, 2013
Heimlich maneuver illustration

Heimlich maneuver illustration

June 1, 1974: Anson (Potsy from Happy Days) Williams’ second cousin publishes an article in Emergency Medicine. At least 50,000 people in the US alone have been saved by using the information from that piece. Dr. Henry received his M.D. from Weill Cornell Medical College in 1943. He married June (dancer Arthur Murray’s daughter) in 1951 after serving with the Navy in China during WWII. He advocates for alternative and homeopathic medicine as well as simple solutions to problems. The ease of learning his special technique for saving choking victims is what has made the Heimlich Maneuver® so successful.

If a person can speak and breathe, do not interfere. If a person is coughing, they are taking in air and should be left alone. If things deteriorate and help is needed, then performing Dr. Heimlich’s maneuver can save a life. It can even be done on oneself, once the underlying principle is understood. As early as the 15th century, drowning victims were rolled over a barrel to expel water from their lungs, an early version of the technique.

From the Heimlich Institute – “How to perform the Heimlich Maneuver®”: 1. From behind, wrap your arms around the victim’s waist; 2. Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against the victim’s upper abdomen, below the ribcage and above the navel; 3. Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into their upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust. Do not squeeze the ribcage; confine the force of the thrust to your hands; and 4. Repeat until object is expelled.

Dr. Heimlich saved hundreds of Asians from blindness during the 1940s. He then trained in general and chest surgery and replaced a diseased esophagus, the first total organ replacement in history. He developed a chest drain valve that saved hundreds of wounded soldiers in Vietnam by allowing for the chest cavity to be properly drained. He is a proponent of malariotherapy, a controversial treatment for cancer, Lyme disease, and HIV. This questionable and unproven therapy has been rejected by the FDA and CDC.

“Big mouthfuls often choke.” – Italian Proverb

“I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means – except by getting off his back.” – Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

“More ways of killing a cat than choking her with cream.” – Charles Kingsley

“We are not hungry. . . . Why foist this food upon us? We don’t want to be choked. We have enough.” – Robert Mugabe

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Choking as a medical term does not simply mean coughing. Instead, it is a mechanical obstruction that prevents air from entering the lungs. It can be partial or complete with the latter being much more serious. Partial obstruction permits some air to enter the lungs, although the amount is inadequate. With no air coming into the lungs, a condition called asphyxia occurs. Asphyxiation is the feeling of smothering when the oxygen content is insufficient to supply the body. This lack of oxygen is called hypoxia and if untreated long enough and the obstruction becomes complete, the condition is called anoxia. Thus, the low (hypo) situation of oxygen devolves into no (an) oxygen moving and it is fatal if not treated. 

Also on this day: And Now – The News – In 1980 Ted Turner begins broadcasting with CNN.
Not Hops Scotch – In 1495, Friar John Cor was listed as possessing ingredients to make Scotch.
Unlucky Ship – In 1813, James Lawrence took command of the USS Chesapeake.

One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on June 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    That doctor’s article was a reprint of somebody else’s article(so said Anson Williams himself when his cousin was sued for plagiarism),similiar to this article in WordPress being a copy of an article on Patricia Hysell has the morality to give credit where credit is due-something lacking on and to Anson Williams’ cousin.

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