Although choking isn’t a common phenomenon, it is an emergency situation where some simple first aid techniques could make all of the difference and save that person’s life. Choking is a time critical event, and by acting quick you can make all of the difference, if an individual cannot remove the foreign object occluding their airway, then suffocation and cardiac arrest will soon ensue.
What is the first thing when you realise that someone is choking, don’t panic. Keep calm and you will be best able to assist them. If you are not sure is someone is choking, simply ask them and they will give you an appropriate response. When you’ve established that the individual is choking, call 999 and ask for an ambulance, this means specialist help will be on its way. Try and encourage the patient to cough, coughing is the least invasive of the foreign away occlusion removal techniques. Individuals are sometimes able to dislodge the foreign body by coughing it out, but after a few attempts, or if they are completely ineffective/cannot cough, you will need to move onto the next technique.
Encourage the patient to lean forward, you now will need to give 5 back blows in the centre of the back, between the shoulder blades. Use a flat palm and put some force into the blow. With the patient leaning forward and the 5 back blows this can often cause enough force to dislodge the object. If these fail then you must move to abdominal thrusts. Stand behind the patient and interlock your arms at the top of their abdomen, just under where the diaphragm is. With sharp thrusts inwards and upwards 5 times, this can often cause enough pressure to shift the occlusion.
If neither of these techniques work then begin to alternate the two in a cycle, 5 back blows, 5 abdominal thrusts, 5 back blows, 5 abdominal thrusts… Continue this cycle until the object is removed or the ambulance arrives to take over care. If the patient becomes unconscious from choking and ends on the floor, start doing chest compression’s/cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The action of CPR can often allow for the object to be dislodged. Unless you can clearly see the object and easily grasp it, never place your hands in the persons’ mouth. By doing so you may be pushing the object further into their trachea, or you may cause them to be sick and that will further occlude the airway.
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