Heuristic Rotating Header Image

Public Service Announcement

Or two of them, actually. [Edit: three, really.]

PSA1: Dumping Swedish fish down your throat is never a good idea. If you are driving at the time, it’s a truly horrid idea.

PSA2: Crashing your car into a parked van may in fact dislodge the stuck Swedish fish, but it is not a generally-acceptable alternative to the Heimlich maneuver even if you are the kind of dumbass PSA1 is aimed at.

I was out for a stroll, walking on the right side of the road in
the grass. Harrisonburg is a proper American city, and has neither sidewalks nor safe places to cross busy roads, so I was just going around the block for some air after driving all afternoon.

An SUV comes whipping around the corner, jumps the curb, hits a parked radio station van in said radio station’s parking lot.

Mid-20s male driver gets out of the car, says he was choking, still in some distress.

I don’t have my phone, so I try to get him to give me his, but he can’t find it.
Some other guy comes wandering up, calls 911 for me, then leaves again (!).
So I stay with Mister Dumps Swedish Fish Down His Gullet, torn between trying
to get him to sit down in case he’s more hurt than he thinks, or
leaving him up to finish expelling Swedish fish.

EMS shows up, letting me dump the decision on people who know what they’re
doing. Fire truck shows up, cleans up spilled car juices, makes sure the car won’t explode.

Popping a smashed hood open with a fire ax looks kind of fun.

As the only witness (road was empty when this happened), I waited around for the
cop, who took a while to show up. According to the EMS people, it had been
incredibly busy for a Monday. I think the cop was pleased with my report. I’m fairly organized anyway, and when out walking in a strange city with no sidewalks, I’m very aware of where all the other cars and people are.

I am entirely fine, drinking beer and eating a sandwich back in my hotel room now.
I still don’t have my talk for tomorrow finished… but I’m drinking beer anyway.

It wasn’t until after, while I was loitering around waiting for the cop, that I realized how close I’d come to being flattened myself. But then, if I’d left three minutes earlier I would have missed the whole thing. There’s just no way of knowing, and no sense in worrying about things I have no control over.

But I ate dessert first tonight, just in case.

PSA3: Discussion on twitter prompts me to remind you all that basic first aid and CPR/AED training is available across the US from your local Red Cross chapter. If Mr Fish had needed help with the obstruction, I could have done so. Why? Because I have CPR certification, and that class covers choking, along with other useful things.

Having basic certs does not obligate you to provide care if you don’t feel able, but it does give you the tools to deal with life-threatening situations. Having certs also offers you legal protection as long as you act within the bounds of your training. If I’d bruised Mr. Fish while dislodging the obstruction, he couldn’t sue me. (Not that I ever touched him, as he was conscious and breathing.)

It’s a good thing to do, and you never know when you might need it. Out for a stroll in a strange city, perhaps.


  1. Marjorie says:

    Glad you are OK (& that Mr Fish is, too!)

  2. Nick says:

    Aren’t you glad I reminded you to take a good knife on your road trip?

    See, if Mr. Fish had needed a tracheotomy…..