LifeVac. Photo by LifeVac

LifeVac Saves Its First Life

In a previous article, I reviewed the LifeVac anti-choking device. What I didn’t know is the device actually had their very first documented save in Dyfed, Wales not too long before (1).

The Allt-y-Myndd Care Home bought the device after losing a resident to choking in the beginning of this year. Providentially, another resident choked on her lunch just two days after the care home received their LifeVac. After the normal standard protocols failed, a worker quickly grabbed the unit and with only one swift pump, the food was dislodged (2). Needless to say, everyone is ecstatic over the life saved. Even the supplier of this particular LifeVac, Rhona Manning, broke down in tears upon hearing the good news (3).

LifeVac always advocates using the standard protocols first, before ever trying their device (4), but this now begs the question, should you even waste time with the abdominal thrusts / back blows?

Everyone calm down. I’m not advocating using one thing and not using the other. Any good medic, nurse, or doctor will tell you success is in the options. What works for one may not work for another. The more tools we have in our belt, the more we can fix. Yet, when time is of the essence, which tool do we reach for first?

Thankfully, it seems we are breaking away from prehospital dogma. The American Red Cross changed their guidelines from performing abdominal thrusts first to performing back-blows first (5).


No doubt, the abdominal thrusts, back blows, and now, the LifeVac save lives. It could very well be that the LifeVac works best when the individual is unconscious. Our natural tendency when a vacuum is put to our mouth is to fight it. Or it could be that LifeVac works best when a person is conscious and can aid the device by generating their own positive pressure by activating their intercostals and diaphragm.

Whatever may be, keep your minds open, and don’t be surprised if LifeVac blows your mind by changing those choking guidelines some day.

You know what? That should be LifeVac’s catchphrase: “Sucking face. Blowing minds.”

… Okay maybe not.

Aside from my temporary lack of filter, and with all sincerity, congratulations to Arthur Lih, Paul Leberer, Rhona Manning, and the rest of the LifeVac family. You are now, officially, heroes.


(Editor’s Note: The views expressed above do not necessarily reflect the views of EMS Wire)

  1. “LifeVac Registers Its First Successful Rescue of a Choking Victim.” PRN News Wire. June 6, 2016. Accessed July 05, 2016.
  2. Banagan, Matthew. “!!!LIFEVAC SAVED ITS FIRST LIFE IN AN EMERGENCY SITUATION!!!” LinkedIn. June 2, 2016. Accessed July 5, 2016.
  3. Bacon, Jake. “Welling Woman Broke down in Tears When One of Her Medical Devices Saved OAP’s Life.” News Shopper. June 9, 2016. Accessed July 05, 2016.
  4. LifeVac Europe LTD. LifeVac.
  5. “CONSCIOUS CHOKING.” American Red Cross. Accessed July 05, 2016.
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Tim Cheves
Born in Tucson, AZ, Tim received a B.S. degree in Physiology (Pre-Med) with a minor in Pre-law at the University of Arizona. Here, he co-founded two UA chapter medical outreach clubs, served as a pre-health ambassador, became an R&D researcher, competed on UA's triathlon team, received the “Physiology Wildcat Award” in 2012, and graduated with honors.

In addition to three separate associates degrees, Tim became a nationally certified EMT in 2008 and continues to use his certification to this day. His work experience spans from physical therapy and nursing tech to the ER, donor organ procurement, and Search and Rescue.
As a self proclaimed grease monkey and gym rat, Tim enters his self re-built cars into shows and competes in bodybuilding competitions for fun.

Tim has been an instructor for EMS University since 2014, works at the UA as a biosafety officer, and now sets his sights on becoming a Physician Assistant.

One comment

  1. So exciting this thing saved a life when all else failed…personally I’d grab this thing over trusting myself to be successful at the Heimlich

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