Group in Heimlich Scandal Disbands

Oct 16, 2009 at 5:40 pm

An Illinois nonprofit organization that once sued a local blogger after he raised questions about its program has filed dissolution paperwork with the state.

The Save-a-Life Foundation (SALF) filed the papers with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office on Sept. 17. The action ends the existence of the 16-year-old corporation.—-

In July, SALF dropped its defamation lawsuit against blogger Jason Haap and two other critics, Peter Heimlich and Dr. Robert Baratz. The lawsuit alleged that Haap, Heimlich and Baratz conspired to harm the foundation’s reputation by distributing false information to agencies that fund it, as well as serving as sources for a derogatory report on SALF that aired on WLS-TV, Chicago’s ABC affiliate.

The foundation’s lawsuit alleged that 11 groups had ended their relationship with SALF as a result of efforts by the trio.

Haap, Heimlich and Baratz had criticized the foundation for teaching schoolchildren to use the Heimlich Maneuver as method to help drowning victims, despite the American Red Cross and other groups stating the practice could be dangerous and advising against it.

Haap, a local blogger known as ‘the Dean of Cincinnati,” operates the Cincinnati Beacon Web site and is a Green Party candidate seeking a spot on the Cincinnati Board of Education.

Heimlich is the estranged son of Dr. Henry Heimlich, who created the Heimlich Maneuver, and brother of ex-Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich. Peter Heimlich operates a Web site that lists scientific reports that question the maneuver’s effectiveness and safety. Baratz is a physician who is president of the National Council Against Health Fraud, a group dedicated to exposing medical quackery.

Founded in 1993, SALF taught emergency First Aid skills to schoolchildren. Dr. Henry Heimlich was a member of the foundation’s medical board until January 2007, when he retired.