A Lifesaver…

Mothering Sunday.

There are your favourite huge lilies in a vase, filling the air with the perfume of heaven. White and pale lilac blooms wait with the chocolates, destined to fill another vase. Your granddaughters have made beautiful cards for you… and invited you to Sunday lunch.

And, much as you would have loved a proper roast dinner, with proper, homemade Yorkshire puddings, you have turned that invitation down in favour of sandwiches, knowing that you will struggle to eat even those. It takes a while, but you manage…taking it slowly, a nibble at a time, with a mouthful of water after every bite.

And the girls have baked a special treat… scones, with lots of jam and fresh cream. They are as light as a feather, melt in the mouth and just perfect… those girls are going to be wonderful bakers when they grow up.

You eat the first half… almost. Still with the water ’chaser’ after every small bite. The girls are chattering… and suddenly, you cannot speak. Or Breathe. Or attract anyone’s attention.

The scone has completely plastered over the internal workings of your throat, sealing it tight. Food will not go up or down. Swallowing and breathing cannot happen. Air will not go in or out. You are choking to death, on a special treat made by your granddaughters… in front of them on Mother’s Day. It could hardly get any worse… except that there is a DNR in place, so even if anyone notices your plight and calls the ambulance, you would be dead before the paramedics arrived and they could do nothing.

And it is utterly terrifying.

Seconds stretch into eternity… then, “Alex!… Get in here, NOW…” and people are moving…

…and you are being thumped and slapped across the back like a rag dog… thumped hard enough that you should end up with cracked ribs and don’t actually care. Hit over and over again, as panic rises and nothing happens…You can only imagine how painful and difficult it is for your son to be deliberately trying to hit you as hard as he can…

And you can’t say ‘Heimlich’ because you can’t speak…

Then something shifts, and a bit more… a concrete-like pellet of scone dislodges and suddenly, somehow, you are still alive, gasping for air… and incredibly tired.

Seconds? Minutes? Eternity? It was all of those and, quite simply, the most frightening thing I have ever experienced. The absolute helplessness of it… especially with a body that will now no longer allow me to try to rescue myself. I could not have walked, or moved to anywhere where I could apply the Heimlich manoeuvre to myself.

Alex did not use that technique because, given the current state of my heart and lungs, he felt it was too dangerous and was quite right. The abdominal thrust known as the Heimlich is now recommended as a second step, rather than a first response.

Would you know what to do?

What if you were on your own and started choking?

There is no time to find out in an emergency.

If the person is able to cry, cough or breathe, they may be able to clear the blockage by being encouraged to cough. But don’t waste time if they cannot.

For children under one year old and pregnant women, there are different techniques that must be used…make sure you know what is involved.


Stand behind the person who is choking and slightly to one side. Support their chest with 1 hand. Lean them forward so the object blocking their airway will come out of their mouth, rather than moving further down.

Give up to five sharp, forceful blows between their shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. The heel is between the palm of your hand and your wrist.

Check if the blockage has cleared.


If not, give up to five abdominal thrusts.

Stand behind the person who’s choking.

Place your arms around their waist and bend them forward.

Clench one fist and place it right above their belly button.

Put the other hand on top of your fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards.

Repeat this movement up to five times.

If the person’s airway is still blocked after trying back blows and abdominal thrusts, get help immediately.

Call 999 (UK)and ask for an ambulance. Tell the emergency operator the person is choking.

Continue with the cycles of five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until help arrives.

If they lose consciousness, follow the operator’s instructions and/or commence CPR until help arrives.

Anyone who has received abdominal thrusts must be checked by a doctor as they can cause serious damage.

Never perform abdominal thrusts on someone who is not choking.

If you are choking and alone

Better still… why not take a first aid course and learn the basics of how to handle these everyday emergencies that kill so many people every year for want of a little knowledge.

It is not the first time that Alex has come to my rescue. He has staunched serious blood flow, kept his calm and got me through the spider-bite poisoning and subsequent allergic reactions… and seen me through extensive second and third-degree burns.  His training was simply time spent with St John Ambulance as a child. Such training sticks… he has saved my life more than once, and he does so with such a calm and loving presence…  though this time was seriously by far the scariest.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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107 Responses to A Lifesaver…

  1. Yikes! That is a terrifying experience for all involved. And here you are with lifesaving advice and tutorials for others. Here you are.


  2. Ruth says:

    OMG! So glad you are OK Sue, how terrifying for you, and for the family – sending love and hugs your way ❤


  3. Oh goodness gracious. How horrific for you and your family. I’m so glad you are okay. I am actually in the process of renewing my CPR/First Aid certification, which is required for teaching yoga. They also teach it to all high schoolers in our town, which I’m glad is also a requirement. xoxo 🤗❤️


  4. Darcy Scholts says:

    Oh how scary! Glad you made it through!


  5. Eliza Waters says:

    Yes, so scary indeed. Alex is our hero! ❤
    I took a CPR course in my twenties and did have to use the Heimlich on my toddler who choked on a marshmallow – yikes. I did it so fast, barely without thinking, and it shot right out! I was so glad I had taken the course and knew what to do. Thanks for this post– an important public service announcement. 🙂


  6. Excellent awareness post after your ordeal Sue. Glad you are still with us and well done Alex.
    When my Dad died, I took a first aid course and became a first aider at work. I think its something that should be taught at school too. You never know when you might need it.


  7. Jim Borden says:

    that must have been frightening; good thing Alex knew what to do. thanks for sharing such valuable info…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Please read the full article, and watch the three short videos, on the original blog post…

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Wow, what a story. So glad Alex could help. Your granddaughters would have been devastated had their scone done you in.


  10. I’m so glad your son was there for you. “Liked” for the final outcome and the advice.

    Back in the 1980s I took a refresher course of CPR and Heimlich for one of my scuba certifications. That evening I called my parents to check on them. They had extended a road trip to Florida, and I didn’t know when they would be back, but I called their house anyway. My mother answered. They had arrived home three hours earlier, and my father went straight to bed. He wouldn’t get up, and he complained that his jaw was hurting. I told her to call 911 and get an ambulance there right away. He was having a heart attack. He ended up having open heart surgery, but he survived because that day I just happened to take a CPR class, where I learned that an aching jaw is a possible indication of a heart attack.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Good grief!

      It just shows you how very important these details can be…It is not always the big things like ‘how to’ but what to look for, I wonder how many realise that men and women get different signs for heart attacks too?

      I have no idea how Alex knew the latest details on the Heimlich vs back slaps, but I’m glad he did and knew what to do and how.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. willowdot21 says:

    Thank goodness you are okay . Thank goodness for Alex.
    Thank you for the advice 💜.


  12. willowdot21 says:

    Reblogged this on willowdot21 and commented:
    A lesson from Sue

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for the great adivce. Honestly, it had to be used in the past one myself sometimes. I dont know why, but i have had suddenly this blockade. Michael


  14. jwebster2 says:

    Reblogged this on Jim Webster and commented:
    What happens if somebody is choking. It’s well worth stopping to watch the videos!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Tony Payne says:

    Oh gawd, scary and then some! I was thinking I could just murder a cream tea, but you don’t imagine that one could murder you! Hope you are ok now.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. joylennick says:

    How scary! Thank goodness for Alex,,,,Spreading the word is the way…I bet you were both exhausted afterwards. Calm now, Sue! Love xx


  17. Darlene says:

    Oh my goodness. On top of everything. How wonderful that your son knew exactly what to do and that you are still around to write this post. Everyone should have some First Aid training. My husband as a coxswain of a lifeboat is always up to date which makes me feel comfortable but it is good to know what to do if alone. Sending hugs to all of you.


  18. trentpmcd says:

    Wow, very scary! Glad he was quick thinking! Some great tips and advice.


  19. Some people will do anything for attention! I’m sorry you had such a freight on a special day, but glad you’re OK. Obviously, it was not your time to go! Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. restlessjo says:

    Hooo! Not the way I planned to end my evening, but glad you made it through. I kinda love that Alex 🙂 🙂 Sleep well!


  21. joyroses13 says:

    Can’t imagine how scary that was for you and your loved ones!! So glad Alex was able to rescue you! (((Hugs))))


  22. Sounds terrifying. Scary enough when choking on a sip of water. I’m so glad he could help and saved you again! 😘


  23. I have learned that choking is more frequent when we get old, and ive noticed it myself. So i was especially glad to see the do-it-yourself version. Thanks Sue for surviving and then doing us all a service by telling the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Sadje says:

    Oh my what a scary experience to go through. You’ve described it so vividly. You’re absolutely right that we all need to learn how to cope with such emergencies. I’m so glad that you’re okay now.


  25. I am so glad your son was there to save the day. You are blessed. It was a frightening account of a horrible situation. Virtual hugs.


  26. KL Caley says:

    Thank you for sharing the story and video’s Sue. It’s prompted me to have a look for some local courses. A big well done to your son for coming to the rescue. Take care of yourself.
    KL ❤


  27. Jane Sturgeon says:

    ❤ Sue ❤ Alex and yes, we all need to know the basics. How deeply scary for you and yours. ❤


  28. Jan Sikes says:

    Oh my goodness, Sue, how utterly terrifying for everyone. Your son sounds like an earth Angel. Bless you and your family.


  29. Widdershins says:

    You may be dying, but you’re certainly not going like that! 🙂 … bravo to Alex! 😀


  30. TamrahJo says:

    ahh….crap – a., when you were working so hard to make the day ‘nice’ for all the others – (yes, I’m being gently chiding or harshly chiding you…) AND b. those moments in life when ones body betrays them and their mind knows it, but time slows down and you KNOW your body is betraying you mightily, all while you do your best to deal with it – but….well… sorry this happened – being thumped on, watching time slow down while one suffocates/drowns on dry land, etc., is, not FUN, at all – I remember the harsh asthma attacks I had when I was small – the ‘calm down, breath’ instructions when every cell in my brain said, “fight! fight for your life, if you don’t fight, now? You’re dead in a minute more….” – – but still – -maybe one flake of light scone and no water, next time – just a nibble and ‘sucking on it in your mouth’ until your cheeks abosrb the nutrients, and you tell your grand daughters – “that is the best tasting thing I’ve had for a long time” – or ‘nope, I”m fine, just ‘savoring each nibble’ – I only mention because, well – when your body quits cooperating? You HAVE the right to nibble, suck/pick at small pieces ALL you want to and it will be fine!


  31. Dale says:

    What a petrifying situation, Sue. So glad Alex came to your rescue.
    My youngest, in a restaurant, choked on a sushi roll. When I realised, I jumped up and picked him up (weighed at least the same as me) and tried doing the Heimlich. Not easy. A big guy (said he was a policeman off duty) took over. To this day I wonder if I would have succeeded.


  32. dgkaye says:

    Absolutely frightening, I couldn’t even imagine. Thank you for the pertinent info. I know about the Heimlich, but wasn’t aware of the hand and back. It wasn’t your time girl. ❤ xx


  33. Victoria Zigler says:

    Glad Alex kmew enough so you’re still with us.

    I ggot basic first aid training when I was in Girl Guides, plus learned a few things during all my hospital trips. You can always learn more, but I know enough to at least have a chance of helping in an emergency. So far it’s been enough. I hope I never find myself in a situation where it isn’t.


  34. Deborah Jay says:

    Wow Sue, what a terrifying experience, thank goodness someone noticed!
    Early on in my writing career I lost a good friend, convener of our writer’s group, in just this manner. He was 56, overweight, and had asthma, but when his niece thought he was having an asthma attack, he was actually choking to death on his curry. So sad she didn’t know what you’ve included in this excellent post.


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