June 17th, 2013
05:17 PM ET
8 years ago

Heimlich maneuver saves congressman's life

(CNN) - A congressman from Texas had quite the scare after choking on a piece of popcorn the other day.

Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, was eating Thursday at the Capitol Hill Club–a Republican hangout in Washington–when the popcorn became lodged in his throat, his spokeswoman, Shaylyn Hynes, confirmed Monday.

Not able to breathe, a fellow Republican congressman, Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon, and another stander-by tried to do the Heimlich maneuver but failed to dislodge the food stuck in his throat.

As first reported by National Review, the two called 9-1-1 and shouted for a doctor. That's when Republican aide Nick Muzin, a licensed physician, came over to help.

Whlie Muzin performed the Heimlich, Salmon gave black blows–hard hits to the back–to Poe. After a few attempts, they were able to nudge the popcorn out, allowing Poe to begin coughing, witnesses said.

“The congressman’s glad that Judge Poe is OK," Kristine Michalson, Salmon's communications director, said.

Hynes was not able to confirm exactly how long Poe, 64, was unable to breathe. Witnesses said the situation was looking serious, as the food was stuck for several minutes.

Hynes said Poe was "completely fine" after the incident and finished his dinner at the club. Laughing it off, Poe told her he started to choke after hearing the score of the Congressional baseball game that night, when Democrats bested Republicans, 22-0.

Muzin, the coalitions director for the House Republican Conference, got his medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University and his law degree from Yale University. He formerly served as a health care policy adviser and chief of staff to Republican Tim Scott, who is now senator from South Carolina, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He still practices medicine in Charleston at a clinic that provides medical care to uninsured adults.

As for Poe, the congressman spent the weekend in Texas but returns to Washington Monday to vote, Hynes said.

Filed under: House
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. just sayin

    popcorn is obviosuly a danger to society. ban it, before anybody dies. if we can just save one life, it will be worth it.

    or maybe government should regulate the size of the popped kernel so that it will not get lodged in our throat?

    June 17, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. Larry L

    Good thing he found one of the few Republicans willing to actually do something. The rest of the Republicans just want to obstruct – just like the popcorn.

    June 17, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  3. jon

    A piece of popcorn? Really??

    June 17, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  4. noodlebrain

    @ just saying: obviously, it's a partisan issue. Regulations must be created to disallow Republicans from eating popcorn while discussing basketball, especially basketball vs. Democrats. Maybe to be on the safe side, they should not be allowed to eat popcorn while discussing *any* sports. Hmmmm, Discussing or *watching* any sports, yeah. Or watchying *any* entertainment. Gosh, Let's make sure they're really, really safe and just not let Republicans eat eat popcorn at all!

    June 17, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  5. kayla

    i thought we should keep the gov. out of what we should eat. just saying.

    June 17, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  6. plain&simple

    @ just sayin... Maybe by now republicans would stop choking every time the see they are on the losing end of anything!!! They have to expect it by now.

    June 17, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  7. Thomas

    They grow supper sized popcorn down in Texas.

    June 17, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  8. noteasilyswayed

    Everyone should know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver..... and keep doing it repeatedly until the person starts to cough or passes out and falls to the floor. Take first aid and CPR and you will learn how to do this properly.

    June 17, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  9. No one

    I must know how one chokes on popcorn.

    June 17, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  10. Kris Krause

    Glad that bystanders took quick and effective action!
    Please model better English: "Not able to breathe, a fellow Republican congressman, Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon, and another stander-by tried to do the Heimlich maneuver." It is amazing that Rep Salmon and another person managed to save the congressman when they couldn't breathe themselves!!

    June 17, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  11. Corey

    Pretzels and popcorn. They hate Republicans!

    June 17, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  12. stainpouch

    I recall that President Bush also nearly choked on popcorn. Perhaps we should call it popcon instead.

    June 17, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  13. California Gary

    Equating popcorn to guns "Just Saying"? Really? I'll tell you what......when the story hits the headlines about some nut taking a bag of popcorn into a school and killing multiple students and faculty with it........I'll be the first to join you in working out some sensible restrictions on popcorn.

    June 17, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  14. Jessica

    Just Saying, Keep your Government laws out of my popcorn popper!

    June 17, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  15. Your Panties in Texas

    Congressman Ted Poe should skip the appetizers and stay with eating the real food.
    Tambien, VIVA, VIVA TEXAS!

    June 17, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  16. dody 2

    Must have been a Navy seal. Not many can hold their breath for several minutes.

    June 17, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  17. spockmckoy

    No civilian needs to own a popcorn popper that can hold more than 30 kernels.............

    June 17, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  18. patty fraser

    or maybe the Republicans should elect some younger more current people, 22-0 in the softball game appalling I would have choked too as obviously the softball players on the Repub team did.

    June 17, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. S.B. Stein

    I think that everyone should have some medical training. This also shows that everyone needs some way to get medical care they can afford.

    June 17, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  20. mikeinmn

    Guy should take that as an example of how to treat his fellow citizen.

    June 17, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  21. James Moran

    Amazing good news coming out of Washington. And kudos to Republican aide Nick Muzin, who is not only a licensed physician but has a law degree AND works a clinic treating uninsured adults.

    June 17, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  22. Sandra LeVin

    @ just sayin – VERY funny!!!

    June 17, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  23. Bob

    just sayin's sarcasm is childish and boring.

    June 17, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  24. Close2OKC

    Assault popcorn. Ban it!!!

    June 17, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  25. Rafael I

    We need to regulate popcorn.

    June 17, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
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