June 18, 2013 – When seven-year-old William Ruhno's friend started choking during recess, he was able to save his life because he learned how to help a choking person on Sesame Street.
Derek Almeida was eating pretzels and playing with Ruhno on the Ann Street School's playground in Newark, New Jersey on June 7. All of a sudden he started coughing.
"He was eating the pretzel and he swallowed it, and then all of a sudden he was just coughing and coughing. He was trying to get it out, so I knew," Ruhno said. "I put my arms around him, did a fist and pulled."
What Ruhno did is called the Heimlich maneuver. It is an emergency technique that frees up the airway when a piece of food or a small object is swallowed and gets stuck, making it very difficult or impossible for the person to breathe. To do the Heimlich maneuver, you must stand behind the choking person and put your arms around their waist. Make a fist just above their belly button with one hand and cover it tightly with the other. Pull your fist in and up to just below their ribcage; this increases pressure behind the object in the throat and helps push it out.
The first time Ruhno did the maneuver it didn't work, but the second time the pretzel came flying out of his mouth.
Almeida is very grateful that Ruhno came to his rescue. "I really appreciate that William is a very good friend, and is always by my side," he said. "I appreciate what he did to save my life. And he's one of my best buddies."