New devices claim to save choking victims

Anti Choking Device
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

Serina Dansker remembers the terror when a hot dog got lodged in her son Jake's throat. He's okay now but that isn't the only scare the mom of triplets has faced.

"I can tell you that my kids have choked on spaghetti, they've choked on hot dogs, and it's, it's terrifying," she said.

So, she recently jumped at the chance to buy an anti-choking device invented by a family friend.

"You can never have too many devices or too much ammunition to save your child," she said.

Serina has Lifevac. Another first aid choking device: the Dechoker.  The two vary slightly in design, but basically work the same: put a mask over the choking victim and use suction to hopefully dislodged whatever is stuck.

What does the American College of Emergency Physicians think?

"I have an open mind about the new devices on the market for choking," says Dr. Angela Gardner.  She says she simply doesn't know if the devices work for the general population, but she could see how people at high risk for choking may benefit. Patients with Parkinson's disease or M-S, for example. 
She is concerned, however, when it comes to using them on small children.

"The thing to remember is that children have very large tongues relative to size of the airway and a lot of care would have to be had for using these in children," she said.

The FDA says it "has not approved or cleared a medical device specifically to open an airway or facilitate breathing in a first aid or rescue choking emergency. "

The agency clarified that it hadn't approved anything to substitute for or assist in the Heimlich maneuver.

Medical professionals and the device companies we talked to stress that the Heimlich is always the preferred first line of defense.

"The Heimlich maneuver is easy to master, it is intuitive," Dr. Gardner said.

Serina feels there is no such thing as too many safety backups for her family.

"You have a sense of security, just knowing that there's something else if the Heimlich doesn't work. Ya know, it's just like having the odds in your favor," she said.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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