Becky Greer hadn't thought about the Heimlich maneuver for years, but when the need arose in her classroom, what she'd learned in training came back in a hurry.
Greer, a fourth-grade teacher in Bennion Elementary School, Granite District, saw a child leave his seat Tuesday and start toward the door, clutching his throat.Other students were saying, "He swallowed it. He swallowed it," she said.
She grabbed the choking youngster, rushed him to a sink and applied Heimlich's abdominal thrusts. Out popped a 50-cent coin from his throat.
"I had to do it a couple of times before it worked," said Greer. "I was surprised I stayed so calm."
Having a classroom of concerned fourth-graders watching the event was one good reason for calmness, she said. After the danger had passed, she used the situation as a teaching moment. She instructed her students to locate the critical spot beneath the rib cage and form fists, then showed them how to forcefully expel air from the lungs - the trick to dislodging 50-cent pieces or whatever else may be lodged in the throat.
"We also talked about being embarrassed in these situations," she said.
Greer received her instruction in the Heimlich maneuver both from her parents and in a health class at the University of Utah. She never expected to use the information, but when the critical moment arrived, she was glad to know what to do.
The Heimlich maneuver was named for an American surgeon, H. J. Heimlich, who developed it a a practical, easy-to-learn method of saving a person from choking on an object caught in the throat by applying sudden, sharp pressure to the abdomen just below the rib cage.