California doctor saves choking woman using a pocket knife and a pen

Pauline Larwood, Kern County’s first female supervisor who now serves as a community college trustee, was saved from choking after a doctor performed a life-saving tracheotomy using a pocket knife and a pen.

Courtesy Kern Community College District

Pauline Larwood, Kern County’s first female supervisor who now serves as a community college trustee, was saved from choking after a doctor performed a life-saving tracheotomy using a pocket knife and a pen.

A California doctor is being hailed as a hero after he used a pocket knife and a pen to perform a life-saving tracheotomy on a former local politician who was choking on a piece of meat.

Dr. Royce Johnson — chief of infectious diseases at Kern Medical Center — performed the MacGyver-like procedure on Pauline Larwood after she started choking on her dinner at The Mark restaurant in downtown Bakersfield on Monday, the Bakersfield Californian reported.

The dramatic rescue unfolded in front of several doctors and politicians, who were in town for a symposium on valley fever and were dining at the eatery.

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Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) said that she and her husband were sitting at a table with Larwood — Kern County’s first female supervisor who now serves as a community college trustee — and her husband when she suddenly started to choke.

Grove’s husband immediately tried to perform the Heimlich maneuver as Johnson ran over, but the technique wasn’t working.

“She had already started turning a real like blue, her fingers and her lips,” Grove told the newspaper.

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But the quick-thinking doctor had a Plan B.

“He didn’t scream; he just said, ‘I need a knife,’” Grove said.

Someone handed Johnson a pocket knife, which the doctor used to make a small incision in Larwood’s throat as she sat back in a chair.

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Another physician called for a pen and handed it to Johnson, who broke it in half and inserted the hollow tube into the cut as a breathing tube.

During the procedure, Dr. Thomas Frieden — the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who appeared on stage with Johnson hours earlier at the symposium — monitored Larwood’s heartbeat.

“I was sort of looking at her breathing,” said Dr. Paul Krogstad, a professor of pediatrics and pharmacology at UCLA told the paper. “Royce is blowing into this tracheotomy that he performed and the CDC director (Frieden) is checking her pulse.”

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Emergency workers arrived moments later and rushed Larwood to a local hospital.

Her son said Tuesday that she was doing fine and was expected to recover.

jkemp@nydailynews.com

@joekemp


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