A Scout in Action! Jenna Bush Hager’s husband, an Eagle Scout, saves woman from choking

Jenna Bush Hager and her husband, Henry Hager
Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Jenna Bush Hager, co-host of the immensely popular Today with Hoda & Jenna morning news program, revealed last week that her husband, Eagle Scout Henry Hager, recently saved a woman from choking by using the abdominal thrusts technique he learned in Scouting.

The incident happened when the couple was dining out, and serves as yet another example of how the training kids receive in Scouting can save lives … even decades later.

“We sit down, we’re having a lovely little conversation,” Bush Hager told co-host Hoda Kotb. “All of a sudden, he says, ‘That woman is choking!’ He gets up, he runs over, and he gives a woman the Heimlich maneuver for, it felt like it was 10 minutes.”

Bush Hager said she was amazed at how her husband stayed calm and persistent, as the abdominal thrusts didn’t work right away.

“He continued, and other men were helping him, and I could tell he thought it wasn’t working, and he was saying, ‘Guys, keep going, keep going, keep going!’” Bush Hager said. “And she survived. 911 arrived.

“People were saying to him, like, ‘Are you a doctor?’ And he was like, ‘No, I’m an Eagle Scout.’ ”

“You are my hero”

Bush Hager is the daughter of former president George W. Bush. Henry Hager, son of former Virginia governor John Hager, earned the rank of Eagle in 1993 as a Scout in the Heart of Virginia Council.

Henry Hager is currently the managing director at Waterous Energy Fund, a private equity firm.

In her book Everything Beautiful in Its Time, Bush Hager wrote that her mother, Laura Bush, has always been fond of Henry, in large part because of his Scout-like qualities.

“There is no arguing with her when it comes to Henry’s perfection,” writes Bush Hager. “She always said that she’d prefer her children marry an Eagle Scout than marry a prince.

“Henry is an honest-to-goodness Eagle Scout.”

During the show, Bush Hager was still obviously affected by the traumatic incident at the restaurant.

“I texted (Henry) this morning, and I was like, ‘You are my hero,’ ” she told Kotb. “He is. What a good guy. He’s not just going to sit back and watch something bad happen. He’s going to help.”

What Cub Scouts learn about abdominal thrusts

Webelos Scouts — Cub Scouts in the fourth or fifth grade — learn about abdominal thrusts as they work on the First Responder Adventure.

From the Webelos Handbook:

First aid is what happens when, after you scrape your knee, a caring adult cleans and bandages the wound. First aid is what happens when a server in a restaurant saves a choking victim by giving abdominal thrusts. First aid is what happens when a Scout performs CPR while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Requirement 3 of the First Responder Adventure is “Show how to help a choking victim.”

Position yourself behind the person and reach your arms around his or her waist.

Make a fist with one hand just above the person’s belly button. Cover the fist with your other hand.

Make a series of five quick thrusts inward and upward to force air from the lungs. (Pretend like you’re trying to pick the person up.)

Alternate between abdominal thrusts and back blows until the object is dislodged, the person becomes unconscious, or medical help arrives.

The training is reinforced in Scouts BSA

Later, when they become members of Scouts BSA, youth learn about abdominal thrusts as part of their first-aid training. From the Scouts BSA Handbook:

  1. If the person is conscious, stand behind and place your arm across their chest and shoulder. Lean the person forward and, with the heel of your hand, firmly strike the back between the shoulder blades five times. If the victim still cannot breathe, continue to steps 2 and 3.

  2. Stand behind the victim and position your arms around their waist. Make a fist with one hand and place the thumb side against the person’s body just above the navel but below the rib cage.

  3. Perform up to five abdominal thrusts by thrusting your clasped hands inward and upward with enough force to pop loose the object that is blocking the airway.


About Aaron Derr 455 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.