Editorial: Valuable life lessons learned

On today’s (Oct. 26) letters page, we’ve printed the second missive we’ve received related to our report on an incident  that took place at a Langley banquet last month. That letter can also be found here, on our website.

We mention it, because the writer’s experience — and what she took from it — serves as a good reminder for all of us.

On the night in question, a woman found herself choking on a piece of food and was subsequently saved by another gala guest, who noticed that she was in distress.

This life-saving maneuver took place in the lobby, where the woman had gone to seek help , not realizing she was seated next to an emergency services worker.

In addition to expressing gratitude to those who came to her rescue that evening, the writer of today’s letter makes a couple of important points.

The first is that like so many others in her situation, she made the mistake of getting up and leaving the room to avoid creating a disruption.

It’s a natural reaction, but an incredibly dangerous one, according a Langley firefighter who wrote previously about the incident.

That’s because the only way a choking victim has to draw attention to their plight is through visual signals. With food lodged in the throat, it is impossible to call for help,  or make any noise at all.

In this case, the victim was incredibly lucky, in that another woman who knew how to administer the Heimlich maneuver happened upon her in time.

The second — equally important — point the writer makes is that after her frightening experience, she took it upon herself to learn what to do if she is ever unlucky enough to find herself choking with nobody nearby to help her.

Through her research, she learned to self-administer life-saving abdominal thrusts and to dial 911 and leave the phone off the hook.

For those who live alone, we would add that  it’s never a bad idea — for any number of reasons — to get to know your neighbours.

Finding out who among them would be able to save your life in an emergency is certainly one of the more important ones.

The trick, it seems, is to fight the instinct to flee, making certain to run toward help instead of away from it.