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St. Luke’s Employee Uses Heimlich to Save Choking Friend
April 11, 2024

Laura Barry (left) leans on the shoulder of her friend Kim Parker, a respiratory therapist from the Warren Campus. Parker used the Heimlich maneuver at the Bethlehem Brew Works to save Barry’s life from choking to death on a piece of lettuce.

Kim Parker didn’t hesitate when she realized that her friend Laura Barry was choking during a lunch get-together.

Kim, a respiratory therapist at St. Luke’s Warren Campus, knew exactly what to do.

“It wasn’t that scary at first,” Kim said. “I had performed the Heimlich Maneuver before, on my aunt and at work, but when I did it on Laura, whatever she was choking on didn’t come out.”

After several attempts, Kim put Laura in a chair and finally dislodged what turned out to be a piece of lettuce that got stuck in Laura’s throat and blocked her airway.

“It was just a small piece of lettuce,” Laura said. “Kim jumped up right away and did the Heimlich and managed to get me to cough it out. It was so weird and happened so quickly, and it wasn’t like it was a chunk of food, just a tiny bit of lettuce. It was remarkable that she was able to keep doing it and eventually got it out of me. She was never going to give up.”

The two were lunching with another friend – a monthly occurrence – at Fegley’s Bethlehem Brew Works when the choking incident took place.

Kim recalled that the trio was just eating, talking, and suddenly Laura looked a little funny. Kim asked if she was choking, and Laura shook her head yes.

“I was just so relieved when the food finally came out and that she was OK,” Kim admitted. “But I told her, if you’re ever choking again, put your hands up to your neck so people will know. If no one had looked at her, it could have been much worse.”

Laura said she learned very quickly that she should put her hands to her throat to signal choking distress if it ever occurs again.

“I didn't eat any more salad after that,” Laura said with a laugh, “but I was pretty much done with lunch by that time.”

“I told her she is never allowed to order anything with lettuce in front of me again,” Kim joked