Coronavirus: How do you save someone who's choking? SF residents take first aid zoom classes to avoid E.R. visits

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco residents are signing up for first aid zoom classes to avoid emergency room visits during the shelter-in place-order.

The Shelter in Place first aid class is taught by a 20 year wilderness medicine expert and founder of Ready SF, David Yacubian.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Yacubian was teaching courses in-person for schools, outdoor professionals, park rangers and organizations.

Last week, he posted on Facebook asking if anyone would be interest in first aid lessons. In a matter of hours over 80 of his neighbors responded.

"It's been a variety of folks that live by themselves, so demonstrating how to relieve an airway obstruction just by yourself with a chair, and then there are folks who have kids," said Yacubian.

The free Zoom classes cover bleeding control, wound infections burns and choking. His work from home helpers are his daughters.

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Yacubian demonstrated how to save a child who's chocking. "I put my fist right above her belly button at about a 45 degree angle. I'm going up and in as hard as I can until that object comes out," he said.

Medical professionals are praising this proactive move by many residents.

"I think that's great. I think that the more that people can inform themselves the better," said Dr. Katherine F. D'Harlingue, Pediatrician & Associate Medical Director Clinica de La Raza in San Francisco.

Dr. D'Harlingue says she is seeing patients through Telehealth visit to minimize exposure.

"I do want to encourage people that if they actually need to seek medical care to seek medical care and to first reach out to their primary care clinics," said Dr. D'Harlingue.

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Bryan Hansen is a father of two who took the first aid class this week. Hansen says he's concerned about taking his kids to the E.R in case of minor emergencies.

"I think not wanting to show up to an E.R. with the virus and not putting stress on the staff that is there," said Hanse.

Dr. Colwell, Chief of the Emergency Department at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital says the first aid classes are great, but going to the E.R should not be out of the question in case of emergencies.

"Things like unusual chest pain, when you're unable to feel or use your arm or leg on a regular way when we are concerned about a stroke," said Dr. Colwell.

While addressing the COVID-19 patients that come the E.R Dr. Colwell responded, "Everybody is put in rooms and we don't cohort people that have COVID-19 with people that don't. So we are very careful to keep those separate," he said.

For more information about the Zoom first aid classes click here.

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