California News

California doctor saves choking diner with knife

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Bakersfield restaurant

Dinner was just getting served at a restaurant in Bakersfield when a cry to dial 911 rang out.

A woman was eating a piece of steak when she started to choke. Fortunately, the room was filled with doctors in town for a symposium.

One of them, Dr. Royce Johnson, jumped into action using a steak knife and a pen to perform an emergency tracheotomy.

A restaurant worker describes what happened.

"He hears, 'she's choking she's choking,'" restaurant employee Ro Fernandez said. "Somebody tried to give her the Heimlich and they weren't big enough. And then, 'is there a doctor in the house?' And then the doctor said, you know, let's put her on the ground, then took the steak knife by the blade, made an incision. Finally found an old pen, took the ink out, put it in there. Took a little bit, but finally the gasp comes."

Doctors praised Johnson for his quick thinking, but said only a trained professional should attempt what he did.

"This isn't something to try at home," said Dr. Howard Mell, a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, who was not at the dinner.

Mell said the incision was "like a bad cut" that should heal quickly.

The woman is now doing just fine.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story)

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