Girl Credits SpongeBob for Teaching Heimlich that Saved Best Friends Life

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Miriam Starobin and Allyson Golden had just finished rehearsing the song “I Feel Pretty” for an upcoming choral competition when Allyson choked on a piece of chewing gum while laughing at a joke. Miriam immediately recalled an episode of the popular Nickelodean cartoon show SpongeBob SquarePants where SpongeBob saved Squidward from choking on a clarinet and used the Heimlich Maneuver to save her BFF’s life.

The 12-year-old Long Beach Middle School seventh graders are enjoying their newfound fame, even though the episode Miriam thought she recalled didn’t actually happen exactly that way. No worry, though. The procedure was performed correctly and Allyson is alive today thanks to Miriam’s quick thinking.

Choking is the mechanical obstruction of the flow of air from the outside of the body into the lungs leading to inadequate oxygen. Common hazards in children are round foods such as hot dogs and grapes, and sticky foods, like chewing gum.

When someone is choking, they cannot speak or cry out but will clutch their throat or mouth, or attempt to induce vomiting of the object. If breathing is not restored, the person will turn blue or purple in color because of the lack of oxygen and will eventually lose consciousness. Obviously, if the object is not removed, the person can die.

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The Heimlich Maneuver for aiding choking persons is clinically called Abdominal thrusts. It was named after Henry Heimlich who first described the procedure in June 1974. Abdominal thrusts lift the diaphragm and force enough air from the lungs to create an artificial cough which will move and expel the obstructing foreign body.

How to perform the Heimlich Maneuver in conscious adults:
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.
4. Repeat until object is expelled.

For an unconscious victim, or in cases where the rescuer cannot reach around the victim:
1. Place the victim on back.
2. Facing the victim, kneel astride the victim's hips.
3. With one of your hands on top of the other, place the heel of your bottom hand on the upper abdomen below the rib cage and above the navel.
4. Use your body weight to press into the victim's upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust.
5. Repeat until object is expelled.
6. If the Victim has not recovered, proceed with CPR.

For Choking Infants or Small Children:
1. Lay the child down, face up, on a firm surface and kneel or stand at the victim's feet, or hold infant on your lap facing away from you.
2. Place the middle and index fingers of both your hands below his rib cage and above his navel.
3. Press into the victim's upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust; do not squeeze the rib cage. Be very gentle. Repeat until object is expelled.
4. If the Victim has not recovered, proceed with CPR.

How to Perform the Heimlich on Yourself:
1. Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against your upper abdomen, below the ribcage and above the navel.
2. Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into your upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust.
3. Repeat until object is expelled.
4. Alternatively, you can lean over a fixed horizontal object (table edge, chair, railing) and press your upper abdomen against the edge to produce a quick upward thrust. Repeat until object is expelled.

All victims of choking should see a physician immediately after rescue.

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