John Hunsucker: Still Making Waves With Controversial Lifeguard Classes

Four years ago we wrote about John Hunsucker, a retired UH professor who owned a company that taught lifeguards to use the Heimlich maneuver on drowning victims, something that has been widely discredited in the scientific community. (The Heimlich works great on people who are choking; research shows it does little good and possibly some bad on someone who's drowning.)

"These so-called medical experts," Hunsucker told the Press. "Screw 'em. What do you want me to do, walk in lockstep?"

He's in the news again, as the Washington Post reports that Hunsicker's outfit, National Aquatic Safety Company of Houston, is teaching the Heimlich technique to lifeguards in northern Virginia.

The Post reports Derric Bolton, the head of the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority, is a member of NASCO's "tactical advisory board."

In a subsequent interview, Bolton said NASCO's founder had "written articles for peer-reviewed journals about the protocols, why they're used, the statistics behind them." Articles by NASCO's founder, John Hunsucker, have been roundly criticized for using faulty methods and data.

Last year, Bolton also wrote a two-page letter on NVRPA letterhead extolling the virtues of NASCO. Bolton did not disclose, either in the letter or in his statement to The Post, that he is on NASCO's tactical advisory board, according to his own LinkedIn profile.

Hunsucker did not respond to the Post's interview request. "[A]fter being profiled in various news media, he reportedly does not speak to reporters any more," the paper said.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly