LifeVac hopes to get its product made and assembled in North Devon

The LifeVac deviceThe LifeVac device

A Combe Martin company is hoping to make horror stories of children choking to death a thing of the past.

LifeVac, run by the Banagan family, has created a suction device which they say is safe and works every time to remove stuck food or throat blockages.

The company contacted the Gazette after hearing of the recent death of two-year-old Jacob Jenkins, who reportedly choked on a grape at a Hartlepool Pizza Hut.

Managing director Eric Banagan said lives would be saved if they could get the product into eateries, care homes, schools and work places, as well as standard kit for emergency services.

In time they hope to get it manufactured in North Devon and assembled in Combe Martin.

"I would like to get this in the first-aid choking protocol so there is one in every first-aid kit. People like Pizza Hut, everybody should have a suction device, because everyone can use one," he said.

"You place the mask on the patient and pump the device to create suction - it's a one-way valve that makes a vacuum and then sucks up the blockage."

He said it was the only device of its kind on the market and had been registered by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in June.

Despite interest from Europe and America, so far there has been little response to it in the UK.

It came about when his American friend Arthur Lih was in hospital and saw a family crying after their child died from choking. He vowed it would not happen to his and invented the device.

"The potential is ridiculous - with 25million people in the UK alone, by the law of averages it's going to save someone's life," said Eric.