BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — Dinner was just getting served to a crowd of doctors and elected officials when a cry to dial 911 rang out at The Mark restaurant.
Dr. Paul Krogstad rushed to the commotion and found longtime friend, Dr. Royce Johnson, tending to a community leader who was choking on a piece of meat.
After the Heimlich maneuver failed to open Pauline Larwood’s airway, Johnson called out for a knife. A fellow doctor handed him a pocket knife that he always carries around. Johnson quickly made an incision near Larwood’s throat. Krogstad, who was kneeling next to Johnson, broke a pen-like device in half that Johnson used as a breathing tube.
“He’s a well-trained physician who didn’t hesitate to step up. He was very calm, skillful and careful,” said Krogstad, a pediatrician at UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital.
The doctors were in Bakersfield, 110 miles north of Los Angeles, for a summit on valley fever, a fungal respiratory infection that has surged in California and the Southwest.
Some of the nation’s top doctors attended Monday’s meeting, including Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. Johnson, chief of infectious diseases at Kern Medical Center, had appeared on stage with Frieden and Collins earlier that day.