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'Dechoker' anti-choking device claims to save lives but has never been tested on humans

Medical tool found on store shelf makes bold claim
Posted at 10:45 PM, May 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-21 23:26:10-04

A morning last August started out like any other — until Ellen Fiss took her vitamins. One was lodged in her throat and cut off her air supply.

Her 19-year-old daughter Olivia ran into the room and could tell her Mom was in trouble. She patted her on the back and then began abdominal thrusts also known as the Heimlich maneuver. Fiss has no doubt her daughters' quick thinking saved her life.

Abdominal thrusts remain the first life-saving approach for local first responders including Tampa Fire Rescue. The tried and true faces competition from an untested medical device for sale in stores and online.

Dechoker inventor Alan Carver claims to have sold the anti-choking tool to three ResCare nursing homes in Florida and to more than 200 doctors.

Anyone can order the Dechoker from Amazon and Walmart.

ResCare refused to comment on whether it uses the equipment on patients.

The company admits the plunger-like product has never undergone a clinical trial on live humans.

Emergency room doctor Andrew Thomas doesn't recommend medical professionals or anyone else use untested equipment in a life and death situation.

We asked Tampa Fire Captain Mitch Spradlin try the device on a dummy.

On first impression, he felt the device was easy enough to use but wonders if it will get the job done in a life or death situation.

Dechoker posted surveillance video on its website to portray abdominal thrusts as violent and dangerous. According to news reports, abdominal thrusts saved the life of the Orlando woman in that video and she required no further medical treatment. 

Dr. Andrew Thomas says there are potential risks like broken ribs but they are worth it because of the potential benefit.

The CEO, Alan Carver refused to answer our questions on camera. The company advertises that it's registered with the FDA as a class one device. There's no oversight or regulation for class one medical equipment. 

Carver says this tool has saved 17 lives and is 99 percent effective but the company did not provide information for any victims or doctors who would speak out in favor of the device's use.

Carver says he's not trying to replace abdominal thrusts — rather he encourages people to use both as life-saving resources.