Photo/Story Gallery 2003

Keep CPR Current

Chief Howell and his grandson Luke RoufaOne of the most frightening things any parent or grandparent can experience is a choking child. Recently, Chief Jim Howell was faced with this harrowing event when his year and a half old grandson, Luke, choked while eating lunch. The culprit – peanut butter.

Chief Howell and his grandson Luke RoufaPictured left, Chief Jim Howell and his grandson Luke Roufa and right, Regan and Luke Roufa.

Chief Jim Howell was at home recently enjoying an afternoon with his grandchildren, Regan and Luke. Regan was eating a pizza with Luke sneaking pieces from time to time, all under the watchful eye of their mom, Jamie and grandma Judy.

Jim was in the living room when he heard a scream from the kitchen that Luke was choking. When he ran to the kitchen he saw Luke slumped over—his eyes rolled back in his head, and he was white as a ghost. Jim ordered the hysterical women out of the room and told his son Jeremey to call 911.

Thinking Luke was choking on pizza, Jim called on all his CPR training and began the steps to restore Luke’s breathing. He immediately turned the toddler over and gave him three quick blows to the back. Upon turning him over, he saw a piece of pizza hanging from Luke’s mouth and did a finger sweep. With the obstruction gone Jim was surprised to see that Luke was still not breathing. He repeated the process and still felt no air moving. Luke was completely limp in his arms and his lips were turning blue.

Jim could only think of one thing to do, blow air in, hoping to not force an obstruction further down the child’s windpipe. Upon blowing in he saw Luke’s chest and stomach expand, but there was no return air. He gently pushed on the stomach and was surprised to see a glob of peanut butter gush out. He gave another puff of air and within seconds Luke began to moan. Fire rescue arrived and took charge of the situation, rushing Luke to the hospital.

Many of the Howell’s neighbors had seen the commotion and had gathered in the front yard. Paramedics made it clear to anyone who could hear that you should never give a toddler peanut butter or whole pieces of a hotdog. These two items cause more choking incidents with children than anything else. They were also quick to point out the importance of knowing CPR.

Luke is doing fine today—none the worse for his experience. Chief Jim Howell offers this advice: If you don’t know CPR, learn it. If you do know CPR, practice it and keep it current. It could save a precious life!