Creator of new product donates devices to local school district, police department

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 9, 2017

When sickness or injury to a loved one ends in death, many people find avenues to help others avoid that pain.

In September of this year, Picayune Memorial High School teacher Kellie Davis’ step-grandson, who attended school in Florida, choked to death. Her step-grandson had special needs so the Heimlich maneuver could not be used on him.

A month prior to his death, LifeVac representatives Tom Foley and Steve Oliveri visited the Florida school to discuss how their product can be used as a second line of defense when someone is choking.

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At the end of the presentation, the Florida school’s representatives declined to purchase LifeVac products, Foley said.

After the death of Davis’ step-grandson in September, Foley and Oliveri decided to donate their product to the school in order to prevent another such accident from occurring, but the donation was still declined by that school’s representatives, Foley said.

After the fatal incident, Davis learned more about LifeVac and their product. It was then that Davis decided to help others avoid her feeling of loss. After she contacted LifeVac and they learned more about her story, Foley and Oliveri came to Picayune to teach individuals about the product and its benefits.

“In a school system, choking is the number one cause of death and is the fourth leading cause of accidental death in children under 14-years-old,” Foley said during his presentation Tuesday. “Sadly, when we show up to a school system, a death has already occurred but a death hasn’t taken place here in Picayune and our goal is to prevent that from happening.”

Six years ago, LifeVac founder Arthur Lih witnessed the choking death of a seven-year-old child. At the time, his daughter was the same age as the victim and he did not want the same fate for her, so he created a device to help people who are choking but have a disability that prevents the use of the Heimlich maneuver, Foley said.

As a result Lih created LifeVac, a suction device that helps people breathe again when the Heimlich maneuver can’t be used.

“The Heimlich maneuver creates 75 mmhg of suction while the LifeVac creates over 300 mmhg of suction,” Foley said. “The way this device was created it prevents air from pushing food or objects downward and creates a one-way suction to clear the airway of the victim.”

According to LifeVac’s website, the device has saved 10 lives in the United States and Europe.

After Foley and Oliveri presented their product, 30 total LifeVac units were donated to the Picayune School District and the Picayune Police Department.

The product is also available to civilians. LifeVac does not require any major licensing or training and can be used on children, adults and senior citizens, according to the developers.

To learn more about LifeVac and its benefits, visit

“Losing a child is not easy but I’m glad to see that something positive has come out from this tragic accident,” Davis said. “I want to thank Picayune Superintendent Dean Shaw and everyone on the staff for helping me get through this tough time of my life and also to LifeVac for helping others avoid what I went through.”