Police Officer Husband Saves Choking Paramedic Wife; She Taught Him How

August 21, 2009


When Atmore paramedic Susan Odom taught a CPR and Heimlich Maneuver class to a group of Atmore Police officers, she never imagined that the training would save her life. And she certainly never thought her husband would be the one to come to her rescue.

Susan had finished her shift at Atmore Ambulance and headed to her Atmore home last Friday morning.  Her husband, Atmore Police Department Corporal Arthur Odom, was at work, filling out a report at the police station.

That’s when the first 911 call for help came in. Dispatcher Betty Cox took the call from the Odom home, but there was seemingly no one on the line.

“The kids were off to school, and I was just doing the normal stuff — cleaning house,” Susan said. “I had some watermelon and a banana. I swallowed and knew something was wrong. It was stuck in my throat; it would not come up. I knew I started panicking.”

As a certified instructor, Susan knew about the Heimlich Maneuver, a series abdominal thrusts used to dislodge an item lodged in the airway. She even knew how to perform the Heimlich on herself, leaning at first over a dining room table chair, and then over a high sink in the bathroom. But nothing worked.

Betty Cox, the dispatcher, asked Arthur if there would be anyone at his house that would be playing on the phone making calls to 911.  She knew where the silent call was originating from thanks to the computerized E911 system.

Arthur left the police station and began driving the mile to his house. That’s when the dispatcher notified him that there had been a second 911 call from his house.

“The phone had dropped the call,” Susan said. “So I called back. All I could do was hit the floor to make noise. I did not know what else to do. I realized I was in real trouble. I don’t really remember what happened next; I was real close to blacking out. The next thing I knew, my husband was coming in.”

“When that second call came in, I knew something was not right,” he said. “I found her in the floor when I came in the house.”

“That’s when all of that training kicked in,” Arthur said. Susan had trained him well. He performed the Heimlich Maneuver, eventually clearing her airway, saving her life.

After the obstruction was cleared, paramedic Susan refused to let her coworkers from Atmore Ambulance take her to the hospital.

Instead, she and Arthur did something that she admits some might find unusual moments after being saved from death by choking.

They went to eat lunch.

“I did eat very carefully,” she said.

“It’s what we both do,” she said. “We help people everyday. It was routine, part of our training. Sure, it happened to us, but it did not bother either one of us too much.”

“He did save my life, and I am very thankful for him every day,” she said. “He is my hero.”

Call it a perfect match, he says. The proverbial two peas in a pod.

“We actually met at a motorcycle wreck,” he said. He was there working as a police officer; she was there as the paramedic on the Atmore Ambulance that responded. They have been married for four and half years now.

odoms10.jpg“It was love at first sight,” Arthur said, cracking a little smile. “I saw her, and that was it.”

He never knew that when he swept her off her feet, he would be saving her life.

“I have confidence in all the officers,” she said, noting that they had all taken her class and been recertified in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver.

“Last week, Atmore Police Officer Arthur Odom responded to a strange 911 call at his own house,” Channel 3 News anchor Bob Solarski began a report on WEAR Thursday night as Arthur and Susan gathered around the TV to watch.

“I don’t like how they did the report,” she said as the report aired. “It was not really them; it just does not seem right to see us sitting there on the TV talking about this.”

But she hopes the attention from the WEAR interview, an interview on WKRG TV and this NorthEscambia.com article accomplished one thing — “I hope this gets more people to sign up for a CPR class that includes the Heimlich Maneuver. I’m living proof that it can save someone.”

Part of the American Heart Association class that Susan teaches also stresses the importance of using a landline –not a cellular — phone to call 911 when possible.

“If I had called from a cell phone, they would not have known where to send help,” Susan said. “Even though I could not speak, they knew were to send help because our address showed up on the E911 system.”

Pictured above: Susan and Arthur Odom at their Atmore home. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.


10 Responses to “Police Officer Husband Saves Choking Paramedic Wife; She Taught Him How”

  1. Emily Gates on August 24th, 2009 3:30 pm

    I am so gald you to are doing good. Good job Arthur!! You was my CPR Instructor recently,did a great job, very good at what you do.

  2. Bam on August 22nd, 2009 9:08 pm

    Nothing says LOVE like saving the person you love. Great story with a happy ending.

  3. Judy Sherman on August 22nd, 2009 4:03 am

    Susan, so glad you are okay.
    I thank the Lord for you everyday. You were so kind to me when you had to come to my rescue.


  4. Kim on August 21st, 2009 9:57 pm

    I am so proud of both of ya’ll.

  5. ur oldest daughter on August 21st, 2009 12:05 pm

    way to go daddy! i love u both! ps. i think these were the best pics out of all the newspaper articles.

  6. Jenny Your Sister!! on August 21st, 2009 11:32 am

    So proud of you boy!! I am glad you arrived when you did. Love Ya both!!

  7. Sandra on August 21st, 2009 11:09 am

    I missed the news yesterday, but my mom saw it. She thought it was you they were talking about. You two are amazing! I know you are proud of each other and your children too!

  8. Thinker on August 21st, 2009 10:11 am

    Dang, anyone got a handkerchief? I’ll be careful eating bananas for now on.

  9. Shonnan's aunt Nancy on August 21st, 2009 9:52 am

    Hi Arthur…good work bud! We are proud of Atmore’s finest!

  10. Ashley Cunningham on August 21st, 2009 9:42 am

    I’m glad you are okay Mrs. Susan! =)