Man says Tennessee lawmaker saved his life with Heimlich maneuver

A man says Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) saved his life by using the Heimlich maneuver on him when he started to choke during a Veterans Day event. 

Army veteran Bobby Barnes told local television station WATE he was across the table from Burchett at the event when he began choking. 

“Tim jumps up and comes around over. He asks if I was alright. I told him no, so he started doing the Heimlich on me,” Barnes said. “He came over and done it and got me feeling like I could breathe.”

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Barnes says the lawmaker saved his life by stepping in to help him. 

The congressman said in an interview with The Hill the incident took place at a veterans luncheon hosted by Cemex, an international building materials company.

Burchett said he has spoken at events for the company in the same venue multiple times and normally sits in a different part of the building, but it was “God’s will that I sat on the other side of the group.”

The lawmaker said he saw the man choking and ran around the table to give him the Heimlich maneuver. It took "three quick thrusts" before the man could breathe, Burchett said.

“He said to me, ‘Tim, you just saved my life,’” the congressman recalled.  

Burchett said he never had any formal training to perform the Heimlich maneuver, only remembering what his dad told him when he was younger.

Barnes “has been very gracious to make me out to be some kind of hero, but most people that served our country in the military are the real heroes, not some politician that just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Burchett concluded.

Updated: 3:07 p.m.