GEORGE | Bellarmine basketball uses Heimlich maneuver in scary situation
Bellarmine assistant coaches Doug Davenport and Jake Thelen had to use the Heimlich maneuver on a player who started choking at a per-game meal.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Bellarmine basketball team is currently 17-2 with a 54-game home winning streak still in effect.
That kind of success only comes from busy schedules including hours of practice, weight lifting and film sessions, but somehow, head coach Scott Davenport managed to squeeze in an extra team meeting to learn something important but non-basketball related.
The Knights recently learned the Heimlich maneuver from the university’s head trainer Brad Bluestone.
“It's lifesaving, and you could be someone's hero someday,” Bluestone said.
Davenport felt his team needed to go through proper training.
“It's a life skill that you never know, but hopefully, prayers answered, you never need to utilize,” Davenport said.
But his team has needed to use it. Assistant coaches Doug Davenport and Jake Thelen used the Heimlich maneuver just last week during a pregame meal on sophomore forward Ben Weyer.
“I was just eating, talking to the guys,and CJ Fleming looks at me and says, ‘Are you OK?’" Weyer said. "I'm trying to make myself gag, throw up and get it out. I can't. He goes and gets Doug."
Weyer is roughly 6 feet 7 inches tall and 210 pounds. Davenport is not.
“Doug tries to do the Heimlich on me. He's too short, so he tells Jake to try it," Weyer said. "Jake goes for it, and at this point, I started panicking. I could no longer breathe at all, so I started getting really scared.”
Thelen, a former BU player with a similar build, jumped into action.
“I didn't really have time to think," Thelen said. "I just kind of went for it. I had never done it on an actual person before."
Thelen did the Heimlich once, and a portion of the chicken lodged in Weyer’s throat came free. He had to do it a second time to dislodge the entire piece.
“I didn't know what was going to happen or how to get it out," Weyer said. "So they kind of just acted on their own, which was really nice, and it saved me,” said Weyer.."
Thelen had been through Heimlich training at Bellarmine, Indiana University and St. Xavier High School as a basketball coach.
“You never really think that stuff is going to happen to you until it actually does,but good thing I was prepared and ready for that moment,” Thelen said.
The incident led to Davenport’s decision to have every player go through the training.
“I think it's interesting," Weyer said. "I feel like it's not the kind of thing that a lot of people would do. But it shows how much Coach Davenport cares about us, cares about our health, cares about us being out in the community being able to use it in a situation.
“You don't expect it to happen before a game. We're all getting ready for our game, and something like that happens, so you never know when I'll be in a situation where I need to do it."
Weyer went on to play against Drury that same night. He had eight points and six rebounds. He has since felt no effects from the incident but is happy to know how to use the Heimlich for future reference.
“This is a very serious issue," Davenport said. "What if everybody knew how to do it, was taught, and it saved one life? It would all be worth it."
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