Calgary wedding photographer rescues guest from choking at Canmore party – Calgary

As a photographer Lauren Horch has a knack for bringing out the best in people.

At a wedding reception in Canmore on Nov. 4,  she was able to get something physically out of a man that may have saved his life.

Lauren was at a table seated with the groom’s uncle when she noticed something was wrong.

“He was tearing up and wasn’t able to get it out and he was having a hard time breathing,” Horch recalled.

The owner of Tkshotz Photography was at the reception too.

“I heard some commotion and Lauren stood up and asked if anybody knew the Heimlich maneuver,” said Todd Kwiczak

“I think everybody was shocked. Everything moves so fast and she reacted very fast. She didn’t even delay at all. She just jumped right in and did it. I’m proud of her,”

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Horch first gave some blows to the man’s back – then did three abdominal thrusts.

“Thankfully he was able to get it out on the third thrust. He coughed it out a little bit, and was very grateful. His wife was sitting beside him, and she was grateful as well,” Horch said.

The last time the 38-year-old mom had first aid training was through a babysitting course two decades ago, but it all came back to her.

“It’s been a number of years since I’ve done my last training so I’m inspired to get a refresher, but I did a J movement up against his stomach.  I’ve got kids, so I’ve always kind of walked myself through mentally what would happen if they were choking so even though I’ve never had to practice it, but maybe I’ve always been ready,” Horch said.

Kwiczak wants to bring awareness to the wedding industry for members to brush up on first aid training since workers in that business are often with hundreds of guests at dinners.

“Especially in the wedding industry where we are out at weddings multiple times a week being with hundreds of people at dinner constantly. Just creating an awareness with the wedding industry. Maybe we can just start getting that message out and take a refresher course.  It’s certainly something we’re going to do with our team,” Kwiczak said.

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The founder of First Aid Training Calgary says when someone is choking first make sure to let other people know.  Then get consent from the person and help them — whether it’s encouraging to keep coughing or going hands-on to try and clear the obstruction with one of  three common techniques: back blows, abdominal thrusts, and chest thrusts.

“One of the common things that happens with choking is that it’s stressful. It’s chaotic and people panic. Often people assume that somebody else will help so we ourselves need to be competent and ready to help and step in, in a moment’s notice to help save someone’s life,” said Ben Marasco.

Marasco said about 20 per cent of Canadians have done a first aid course in the last three years.

“So many people do first aid courses for workplace needs, but at the end of the day, we are more likely to give first aid, CPR,  abdominal thrust, back blows on a loved one, than on a stranger. So let’s get training for our family members not just because work tells us to,” Marasco said.

If you are alone when choking, it’s possible to do abdominal thrusts on yourself.

“Landmarking at our naval and thrusting upward on the back of a chair or the corner of a table –  something to try and dislodge that object as if we were going to have abdominal thrusts performed on ourselves, but using an object to do that instead,” Marasco said.

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