Paramedic Uses Forceps to Reach Steak Blocking Pa. Man's Airway

Rusiewicz said: "It started to fall apart and that caused a brief problem, but I was able to get the meat out and clear the airway"


 
 

Chuck Biedka, Tribune-Review | | Monday, January 30, 2012


GREENSBURG, Pa. -- Richard Orkwis remembers walking past the plate, plucking up a piece of steak and popping it into his mouth.

He can't remember what happened next.

"He almost died," said his wife, Mindy.

Orkwis' face went blue from the lack of oxygen caused by the meat lodged in his throat, said one paramedic who answered the call to his Natrona home just after midnight on Jan. 9.

Football fans Richard and Mindy Orkwis lamented the overtime loss of the Steelers to the Broncos while they enjoyed their favorite dinner, tenderloin steak, in their upstairs bedroom.

They turned in early; next day it was back to work.

Later, Orkwis, 56, woke up and headed for the bathroom. As he walked past a dresser, he picked up the bite of steak as he headed toward the hallway.

Then he collapsed.

Mindy tried to dislodge the food. "I got scared and called 911," she said.

Citizen Hose emergency medical technician Jim Erb arrived first, followed by EMT Jim Bartolovich and paramedic Matt Rusiewicz.

"I tried abdominal thrusts. They didn't work. I looked for an obstruction and, just then, Matt came in," Erb recalls.

"He was blue in the face and gasping when I arrived," Rusiewicz said.

He had to use forceps and another tool to reach the blockage that was deep in Orkwis' throat.

"It started to fall apart and that caused a brief problem, but I was able to get the meat out and clear the airway," Rusiewicz said.

Most of what happened is a mystery to Orkwis.

"God bless these guys. They saved my life. I'm happy to live to tell about it," Orkwis said.

"I remember getting up at 12 a.m. and getting the piece of meat. I guess I chewed a couple of times instead of 52 times and swallowed," he said. "I don't remember the next 25 minutes when I started to wake up in the ambulance and then I was in the hospital."

He spent the day getting tests in Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison.

Erb said the Citizen Hose crew was assisted greatly by Allegheny County 911 employees George Bitz and Denila Parrish as Orkwis' condition grew more serious.

Orwis was indeed flirting with death, said Dr. Tom McClure, an internal medical specialist and chief medical officer for Allegheny Valley Hospital.

"The people who are at the most risk are people under (age) 1 and over 75, but choking can happen to anyone," he said.

Lack of oxygen for four minutes or more puts people in danger of brain damage and death, he said.

Orkwis, the father of two, said he feels blessed and is happy to be back at Glassmere Fuels, where he has worked for 27 years.

Even after the ordeal, he still loves steak.

"We had it three days later and it was great," he said.



Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, foreceps, choking, airway

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

The Evolution of Civilian High Threat Medical Guidelines

How mass killing events have proven a need for new guidelines.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

British Medics Bid Farewell to Afghanistan Base

Medical team and troops leave Camp Bastion.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Plane Crash at Wichita Airport

Small plane crashes into airport safety building.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Authorities Investigate Firefighters at Arizona EMS Call

Confrontation caught on video involving Glendale firefighters.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Radio Problems for New York Medics

Medic’s radio failed during a call with an armed patient.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Ottawa Shooting Incident

Solider is shot by gunman at national memorial in Ottawa.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Life Link III Trauma Tactics Conference in Minnesota

Conference was designed to enhance the skills of providers of all levels, covering rescue and prehospital situations, to transport and in-hospital treatment.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >