Senator Addabbo pushes for mandatory airway-clearing devices for choking emergencies in New York schools

Medina Senator Addabbo
Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. wants to ensure New York schools are equipped with airway-clearing devices.
Photo by Anthony Medina

Life-saving devices designed to clear a child’s airway in emergencies could soon be required in both public and private New York schools, should new legislation introduced by State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. pass.

Devices like LifeVac and DeChoker, which have gained popularity through social media due to personal testimonials of their effectiveness, are already included in the emergency toolkits of several local law enforcement agencies.

Both devices feature a manually operated suction mechanism that fits over the mouth to clear airway blockages, making them suitable for use in adults and children during choking incidents.

The proposed bill (S7018) by Addabbo, who represents District 15 in the State Senate, would require schools to be equipped with airway-clearance devices and develop policies and training on how to use them if signed into law. 

Addabbo underlines the importance of including additional life-saving measures at New York schools, as a State legislator and especially as a father.  

“Choking incidences are scary, especially for those present when someone is struggling to breathe and desperate for help. Thankfully, the non-invasive, airway-clearing device is easy to operate and can be utilized by anyone,” Addabbo said. 

The cost of training nurses and staff in airway management and operation of airway clearance devices would be determined by individual school boards and eligible for reimbursement from the State, according to the legislation.

Furthermore, the introduction of airway clearance devices in schools will still accompany the use of the Heimlich maneuver – the traditional method for assisting a person who is choking and unable to breathe. 

The Heimlich maneuver has been historically challenging for some individuals, including wheelchair users, who often have limited access to the abdomen. Addabbo says the inclusion of these devices will help broaden school administrators’ ability to perform life-saving measures. 

In Senate Chambers, the legislation has since advanced to the Finance Committee for consideration.