Local mom working to make LifeVac devices available in public places

PITTSBURGH — Brittany Massie Weir bought a LifeVac device after seeing a video on social media of a good Samaritan saving a baby’s life. She never thought she’d have to use the portable airway clearing device on her own child, but that’s what happened on Nov. 3, 2021.

“I’m cooking and I look over at my son, who was a little over a year old at the time, and he was pretty still. One-year-olds are never still,” Weir said.

Her son Mason was choking on a toy lodged in his throat.

“You should call 911, perform abdominal thrust or back blows … but what would you do if you did that and it didn’t work?” Weir said.

She grabbed a LifeVac portable airway clearance device and ran outside.

“You’re coming to grips with the reality that they’re going to die, because I had those thoughts in my head, in my head when I was running outside — my child is going to die, and there’s nothing I can do,” Weir said.

While time seemed to stand still, every second mattered, and on Weir’s second attempt using the LifeVac, the toy came out of her son’s mouth.

Weir has been on a mission ever since, advocating for the device at fire stations and in schools, day cares and nursing homes. She’s been working with lawmakers in Harrisburg — including State Rep. Anita Kulik from Coraopolis — on a bill to require the devices in schools.

“Not everybody is going to be able to be saved by the Heimlich maneuver or a lot of people may find it very difficult to handle that with children or people with disabilities,” said Kulik.

The LifeVac organization cites numerous medical studies, including one published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which concluded that LifeVac has proved to be safe and effective in real-life scenarios and warrants further investigation and research. Weir said every LifeVac that is purchased using the special code BW10 on LifeVac’s website has helped her donate several units across the region, just one of the ways she’s trying to help others.

“Ever since that day, I look at my children just playing normally and think ‘I wouldn’t have this moment right now if it weren’t for LifeVac.’ When all else failed, it saved his life, so I have to get it out there,” Weir said.

The bill is still in the early stages in the legislature, so there’s no way of knowing what the price tag could be for taxpayers. Each unit costs $70. Weir will be set up in a booth at Kennedy Days this week to demonstrate how the LifeVac is used.

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