The Cutting Edge

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Doctor Saves Choking Woman with Pocket Knife

The knife used to save Pauline Larwood. (Rachel Cook/ The Californian)

The knife used to save Pauline Larwood. (Rachel Cook/ The Californian)

When you read about people in life or death situations, they’re usually hiking along trails where grizzly bears frequent or base jumping off rocky cliffs. But you can also find yourself in life or death situations doing something as innocuous as eating dinner.

One woman found that out the hard way.

According to the Bakersfield Californian, Pauline Larwood was eating at a restaurant with other politicians, doctors and experts who were in town for a symposium when she began choking on her food.

Local assemblywoman Shannon Grove, who was sitting at the same table as Larwood, said her husband jumped into action and immediately gave her the Heimlich maneuver. When that failed, he called for a doctor who also tried and failed to clear her airways with the Heimlich maneuver.

At this point, things were starting to seem grim.

“She had already started turning a real like blue, her fingers and her lips,” Grove said to the paper.

Pauline Larwood

Pauline Larwood

As doctors are wont to do, Dr. Royce Johnson, a professor of medicine at UCLA, couldn’t sit back and watch the woman die. Instead of panicking, the first thing Dr. Johnson called out for was none other than a pocket knife.

“He didn’t scream; he just said, ‘I need a knife,’” Grove told the Bakersfield Californian. “It was really unreal how calm (the situation) was.”

When another doctor, who fortunately always carries a pocket knife, handed it to Dr. Johnson, he began performing an impromptu tracheotomy. He made an incision in her neck, stuck a pen in and blew air into her lungs.

Larwood, who had lost consciousness, came back around and quickly regained her color. She went from alive to near death to alive in a matter of minutes. If it wasn’t for the presence of the doctors and, more importantly, the knife, she might not have made it to that last step.

Knives may not be able to feed the hungry or bring peace to warring countries, but they do have the ability to make a difference in people’s lives. Let this be a reminder that having a pocket knife nearby can help save lives through tracheotomies, or even simpler, cutting food into smaller portions.


  1. What knife model is that?

  2. this is exactly what I carry a benchmade mini-spike for, its the perfect knife for this use.

  3. Awesome story! Weapons are tools and meant to be useful!

  4. Awesome knife that I can use everyday

  5. I sure could use a new knife or two.

  6. I always carry one if not two knives on me all the time.

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