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What Are Restaurant Policies If Someone Is Choking?

May 31, 2019

What Are Restaurant Policies If Someone Is Choking?

Of all the different choking causes, food is by far the most common across all age groups. That means that restaurants, where lots of people get together to eat every day, are a hotbed of choking emergencies. Ask any longtime restaurant employee about it, and they’re practically guaranteed to have at least one anecdote to share.

So if choking in restaurants is so common, are there standard policies about how to respond? Are staff uniformly trained, and can a choking victim expect first-aid treatment?

Staff First-Aid Training

Across the U.S., laws about restaurant workers and first aid vary state by state. In general, restaurants are expected to provide a reasonably safe environment for their patrons, and when it comes to choking, that means employees should at least call 911. However, only 14 states have specific laws regarding choking, and many of those require only that informational signage on first-aid treatments be displayed where employees can see it.

Restaurants are not legally required to train their staff on first aid or to provide treatment if a patron is choking, according to FindLaw.

That said, many employees in the service industry have a natural desire to help if they see a patron choking, and there is some debate online and elsewhere about whether servers might get into legal trouble if they do try to help and something goes awry. For instance, it’s not uncommon for a rib to be broken during the Heimlich maneuver, even if performed by a trained professional.

For this reason, most states have enacted Good Samaritan Laws, which are designed to protect people who help in an emergency. Under these laws, “a person performing emergency medical care is not liable for any injuries caused during the delivery of the care,” says FindLaw. “And therefore, if the server isn't liable, the restaurant isn't either.”

A New Option: The Dechoker

What all this adds up to for restaurant patrons is that there is no guarantee staff will help you if you are choking, and despite Good Samaritan Laws that protect them, some staff might be actively worried about touching a patron at all.

We believe that a better standard of care is possible. Our innovative anti-choking device, The Dechoker, is an easy-to-use alternative to traditional choking first-aid treatments like back slaps and the Heimlich maneuver.

To use The Dechoker, you simply apply the face mask over a choking victim’s mouth and nose and pull back on the plunger. This creates suction, which often dislodges the food from the victim’s airway within seconds. This process is quick, simple and risk-free, making it an excellent option for restaurant servers who might otherwise be nervous to attempt care.

We believe Dechoker devices should be a standard part of every first-aid kit in every restaurant, home, ambulance and school around the world. In parts of Europe, we have already begun to stem the tide of choking deaths in nursing homes where Dechoker use has become common.

Learn more about how The Dechoker works here.


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