On June 1, 1974, the lifesaving medical technique known as the Heimlich maneuver was first introduced via an article in Emergency Medicine Magazine. Henry Heimlich, thoracic surgeon and creator of the technique, started developing the lifesaving maneuver after learning of the near-epidemic number of deaths and near-deaths suffered by Americans as a result of choking on food.
Prior to the introduction of the Heimlich maneuver, other medical professionals sought to address the problem by devising various medical devices meant to dislodge food. However, such equipment was typically complicated in design and rarely readily available during such emergencies, which have a window of mere minutes to address before becoming lethal.
In light of this crisis, Henry Heimlich created the now widely known Heimlich maneuver, which requires only an able-bodied bystander and proper hand placement and pressure. Standing behind the person choking, make a fist with one hand. Then grasp the fist with the other hand, and perform six to ten abdominal thrusts just below the diaphragm to dislodge the blockage and open the airway. The application of this pressure by pushing up on the diaphragm, the spot just below the rib cage, releases air from the lungs forcefully enough to clear the airway.
Heimlich discovered this maneuver by (safely and humanely) practicing on anesthetized dogs in a medical setting. To date, the technique has saved (and will continue to save) countless lives.
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