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How To Perform the Heimlich Maneuver 
by VWB October 27, 2007

History of the Heimlich Maneuver – A Timeline

15th Century - Common practice was to lay a drowning victim face down across a barrel and roll the barrel back and forth. This movement pushed the diaphragm up and into the lungs which pushed the water out.

1903 - The Schafer prone-pressure method was first used to expel water from the lungs of a drowning victim. The victim was placed face down and the rescuer pressed on the lower back. This forced exhalation and water from the lungs.

1961 – Mouth to mouth or ‘artificial respiration’ is adopted during a medical conference in Stavenger, Norway because it delivers more air to the lungs than the Schafer method. They replace the Schafer method with mouth to mouth for drowning victims without consideration for how first to remove the water from the lungs.

1973-1983 – Studies are done that prove that 57% of drowning victims die when CPR alone is used and that 86% vomit, further blocking the airway and complicating the rescue.

1974-1975 – The Heimlich maneuver is introduced and The American Red Cross adopts it as standard protocol for rescuing choking victims.

1982 – Studies show that four Heimlich maneuvers administered in under 10 seconds will successfully clear water from the lungs of a drowning victim.

1986 – The American Heart Association endorses the Heimlich maneuver to save drowning victims, including it in their manual, American Heart Association Standards and Guidelines, which is followed by the American Red Cross and other medical organizations.



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