ALLEGANY — Tim Hite remembers a time when he tried to help a man who was choking on a sandwich, but couldn’t save him.
Hite, a professional firefighter, now promotes the Dechoker life-saving medical device which is used to suction objects from the airways of toddlers, children and adults.
Recently, Hite sold several sets of the Dechokers to the Allegany-Limestone Central School District, the first school district in the state to purchase the items. Middle-High School Principal Cory Pecorella said the school district purchased two packages of the suction devices for each of the campuses. Each package contains three Dechokers in adult, youth and toddler sizes. The packages will be kept in the nurse’s office and the cafeteria.
Hite, a resident of Olean and firefighter with the city of Olean, said the product was created about three years ago by Alan Carver of Colorado and is manufactured in Concord, N.C.
“What it does is it replaces the abdominal thrust” which was previously referred to as the Heimlich maneuver, Hite explained. “It creates a negative pressure in the mouth area as you pull back and it forces the object out in reverse.”
He said the respirator face mask on the device is fitted over the mouth of the choking individual, While one hand holds the face mask in place, the other pulls the plunger upward, pushes it back down and pulls it up again to suction the object out. The steps can be repeated until the object is aspirated.
“I just found out about this about a year ago and started working with (the company) to sell it in this area,” Hite remarked. “Beef-N-Barrel (restaurant) has an adult size and child size (Dechoker) and the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office has a first aid kit with an adult size in it at their dispatch center.”
After a device is used once, it should be replaced because of the possibility of bacterial contamination. The devices are $79 per unit and a kit of three is $239.
Pecorella said he learned of the device from Hite, whom he serves with in the Allegany Volunteer Fire Department.
“(Hite) contacted me and wanted to demonstrate the product for us,” Pecorella said. “We bought right into it. We have something that’s going to keep our kids safe and a better way to locate an object in someone’s throat.”
Pecorella sad he or Hite will train the faculty and staff how to use the items. Instructions are also available through the MDamerica national training partner which can be found on the company website www.dechoker.com.
Pecorella said the device is useful in schools, as most choking incidents are caused by food.
“Last year we had an incident where someone was choking in the cafeteria,” Pecorella recalled.
“(The eighth-grade student) kind of coughed it up, but it was an emergency for us.
“We’re excited to have an opportunity to have these in the buildings,” Pecorella continued. “Safety is our first priority in the building.”
Hite said he recommends the devices for any place that wants them, not just public entities.
A major in the Army Reserves as well as a fire instructor, Hite understands the need for the devices as choking can happen anywhere. During one incident in his hometown of Camden, he and other emergency personnel couldn’t help an older individual who was choking. The man, who was disabled, had tried to eat two peanut butter sandwiches at once, causing him to choke.
“By the time we got to him, he was already in cardiac arrest” and died, he lamented.
Now, as the father of two young children, Hite carries the items in his truck or in his camper when his family goes on outings.
“I take it anywhere — it’s for everybody,” he concluded
(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)