Kentucky Wesleyan football coach saves man from choking at Disney World

Waitress summons coach after muffing Heimlich maneuver

Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro)July 31, 2013 

Brent Holsclaw

Brent Holsclaw and his family sat down at Chef Mickey's for breakfast at Disney World while on vacation last week just hoping to have a nice meal before a full day at Magic Kingdom.

Little did the Kentucky Wesleyan football coach know that he'd be needed to save someone's life.

A man sitting at a table about 15 feet across from Holsclaw started choking on his food. Waitresses rushed to the man and tried to help. Holsclaw, who's certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and knows how to administer the Heimlich maneuver, offered to help. The waitresses initially declined and rushed the man back to the kitchen to get him out of the public eye.

About a minute later, after several failed attempts, a waitress came back and rushed Holsclaw to the man to help him.

Another waitress sat with Holsclaw's two sons while his wife, Lexie, was still in line for food, unaware of the entire situation.

"I went back to the kitchen and I gave him probably three or four thrusts and out came the vomit, the nastiness, and that was it," Holsclaw said.

Holsclaw estimated the man was in his mid-to-late 30s and described him as a "bigger man."

"The reason the waitress couldn't continue to do it was because he was a bigger guy," Holsclaw said.

"She couldn't get her arms all the way around him. I'm a 6-foot-3, 240-pound guy. I had no problem with it."

Finally, the Disney Emergency Medical Services came to take control of the situation and Holsclaw was able to go back to his seat to eat. It wasn't long after that the choking victim was also able to return to his seat and finish his meal.

Holsclaw never panicked, saying in those sorts of situations, he's trained to remain calm.

"It was like, for me, third- and-5. You've just got to remain calm through those things," he said. "If you know what you're doing, it's not a problem."

Not one for the spotlight, Holsclaw was reluctant to talk about the incident because he didn't want to be glorified for it.

He said there could have been a number of people who would have been willing and able to help, he just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

"I would hope that if I was ever in that situation, someone would be kind enough to do that for me," he said. "To me, it's just part of being a good human being. It's not about anything else. That's just the nature of who I am.

"I'm not the kind of person who likes the spotlight. I'm not. I am who I am — a small college football coach."

The man thanked Holsclaw after he finished his meal, and Holsclaw, his wife and two sons went about their day at the Magic Kingdom.

But not before he was rewarded for his efforts.

"What I was most excited about was the restaurant — they comped my food, so it saved us some money," Holsclaw joked.

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