Monday, August 11, 2014

Boise Ethics Commission to Address Controversial Drowning Investigation

Posted By on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Felix Martinez was rescued from the New York Canal on June 23. He died five days later. The Ada County coroner said the official cause of death was drowning. - KELSEY HAWES
  • Kelsey Hawes
  • Felix Martinez was rescued from the New York Canal on June 23. He died five days later. The Ada County coroner said the official cause of death was drowning.

A City of Boise investigation into whether a firefighter inappropriately used the Heimlich maneuver on a drowning victim is now being investigated by the city of Boise Ethics Commission, Boise State Public Radio reports

In mid-July, Boise Weekly readers learned about Felix Martinez, a homeless man rescued from the New York Canal in Boise by firefighter Brent Matthews June 23. At the time of the rescue, Martinez had no pulse and wasn't breathing, but Matthews was able to perform emergency maneuvers to restore Martinez enough to be transported to a hospital, where he died June 28.

Immediately following Martinez's rescue, Matthews strongly implied to KTVB reporter Scott Evans that he'd used the Heimlich maneuver during the rescue, which caught the attention of Peter Heimlich, son of Heimlich maneuver inventor Dr. Henry Heimlich, who contacted BW regarding the appropriateness of using the Heimlich maneuver on a drowning victim.

It turns out that the maneuver is explicitly disadvised for use on drowning victims by the American Heart Association. The Boise Fire Department conducted an investigation into the issue and concluded that Matthews had misspoken to Evans during the interview and had not, in fact, used the Heimlich maneuver on Martinez.

Following BFD's investigation, Heimlich filed a complaint with the Boise Ethics Commission, which will take up the issue at its Aug. 14 meeting on the third floor of Boise City Hall at 3 p.m.
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