Sideshow Podcast: Bea Arthur and Unicorns Teach You the Heimlich Maneuver

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - 08:00 AM

(Jason O'Malley)

There’s one item you can find in most restaurants from New York to California: a poster telling you how to save someone who’s choking. Though required by law in many states, those simple instructions tend to fade into the wallpaper. New York City’s official poster was designed by Steve Duenes, the graphics director of The New York Times. It clearly lists the steps of how to perform the Heimlich maneuver next to greyscale illustrations of a couple going through the motions.

See the choking victim posters from this story below.

But in the past few years, New York City restaurant owners have started replacing Duenes’ poster with new ones designed by local artists, illustrators, and graphic designers. “So many restaurants are so aesthetically focused,” says Sonja Sharp, a reporter who recently wrote about these new posters for the The Wall Street Journal. “When you have those posters from the Department of Health, it really sticks out."

The new posters run the gamut in theme and style. There’s Alex Holden’s Cuban cocktail lounge version in pen and ink and Lara Antal’s graphic novel-style romance. The posters are eye-catching, funny ways teach people what to do in an emergency. The catch: they’re not entirely legal.

And Bea Arthur giving the Heimlich to a unicorn? Justin O'Malley's crazy version may be a step too far. “Having worked in a restaurant, [the poster] is important to have because you panic,” says Lara Antal. “It would be nice if you look at something and it doesn’t induce more panic.”

Duenes isn’t sold on the more adventurous interpretations, either. “I haven’t conducted any research,” he admits, “but it seems unlikely that people would be so engaged by a comic-style choking poster that they will make their way through the whole thing and know what to do in an emergency.” Still, even Duenes’ official version features a little joke. That choking victim is a friend of his – just don’t ask him to reveal who it is.








Lara Antal, Steve Duenes and Sonja Sharp


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Comments [2]

Richard from Brisbane

Interesting that they are still recommending the Heimlich maneuver in the US. Its not commonly used outside the US and has been shown to be not particularly effective.

Sep. 09 2014 02:25 AM

Seriously how could you forget this one?!

Aug. 15 2014 07:12 PM

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