A local man owes his life to the Heimlich Maneuver and the quick thinking of a Clinton Police investigator Eric Koonce.


The man, Beau Branscum, posted on social media about the Aug. 4 incident, stating: “I was eating lunch with my best friend today when I felt a sharp stab in my throat while swallowing a bite of my food. The bite became lodged in my throat, cutting off my airflow. I tried drinking, hitting myself, reaching my finger down my throat, everything, and couldn’t get it unstuck. Standing up in a panic, not knowing what to do, I was looking for a place to slam by sternum against to perform a self Heimlich maneuver. About that time, tho, I had developed tunnel vision and everything was quickly getting darker. Suddenly, I feel someone’s arms barrel hug around my chest and jerk me up off the ground and a hard smack against my back. Eventually, everything was dislodged. Apparently, I had broken off a toothpick inside of my burger.”


The Heimlich Maneuver was done by Eric Koonce, Investigator with the Clinton Police Department. Koonce said he was happy to be in the restaurant and able to act when the need arose.


Branscum said he’d been trained in first aid and knew he needed to have a Heimlich done, but “people were just staring” as his situation became more dire.


The Heimlich Maneuver is named after its inventory, Doctor Henry Heimlich, ( February 3, 1920 – December 17, 2016) a medical innovator and thoracic surgeon who presented his idea for the technique in a 1974 scientific paper. Within a month the Heimlich Maneuver was used to save a life, and is estimated to have saved over 50,000 lives to date.


Heimlich went most of his life never having used the maneuver, until a few months before his death when he used it to save the life of a friend at a senior community where he lived.


I want to give a public thank you to Eric Koonce for essentially helping to save my life today. I was eating lunch with my best friend today when I felt a sharp stab in my throat while swallowing a bite of my food. The bite became lodged in my throat, cutting off my airflow. I tried drinking, hitting myself, reaching my finger down my throat, everything, and couldn’t get it unstuck. Standing up in a panic, not knowing what to do, I was looking for a place to slam by sternum against to perform a self Heimlich maneuver. About that time, tho, I had developed tunnel vision and everything was quickly getting darker. Suddenly, I feel someone’s arms barrel hug around my chest and jerk me up off the ground and a hard smack against my back. Eventually, everything was dislodged. Apparently, I had broken off a toothpick inside of my burger. I don’t know what would’ve happened had Eric not been there. I’m lucky you were. So, thank you Eric. I’m extremely grateful. It seems like you’re there a majority of the time when I’m in a life or death situation. Does that make you good luck, or bad? Haha!!