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The Heimlich Manoeuvre

February 13, 2021

I once almost saved someone’s life. We were celebrating at a restaurant after the launch of my first novel. I was sitting at the head of a long table when I noticed that my brother Bruce had stood up. He was reaching over the table, whacking the back of a woman sitting opposite him. The whacking was going on without fuss. Everyone else was doing normal dinner party things, eating and talking, while the woman was silently hunched over. She was unable to breathe.

I’d always wanted to try the Heimlich manoeuvre and was out of my seat in a flash. I pulled the woman out of hers and wrapped my arms around her chest. I gave a squeeze. Then another. And then another. Nothing.

My brother Robert tapped me on the shoulder. ‘You’re doing it all wrong,’ he said, and brushing me aside, put his arms around her, thrusting his fists into the soft, upper part of her abdomen.

It was like magic. The piece of steak that was lodged in her throat flew out of her mouth at high speed. She gasped and began to breathe before bursting into tears. ‘I thought I was going to die,’ she said, sobbing.

And if it had been left to me, she might well have.

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