Choking is one of those frightening and unpredictable events that can turn an ordinary every-day meal or fun social gathering into a sudden, life-threatening emergency.
It’s also quite common on TV and movies to see someone attempting to give first aid to someone choking with an outdated and often comical technique… Mrs Doubtfire anyone??
We’ve developed a simple to remember “ABC” set of steps to help you act promptly and decisively with proven techniques that could mean the difference between life and death for someone you love…
If they can cough
This means a partial obstruction or the airway and that the person can still breathe. Reassure them and encourage continued coughing as it’s the easiest and most effective way to clear an obstruction.
Please. Hold the water! Only once an obstruction is dislodged and they’ve finished coughing should you offer a drink if they wish.
If they cannot cough
If they are unable to cough or breathe, or coughing is ineffective, follow the choking first aid “ABC”:
A = AMBULANCE
Have someone call 000 immediately. You may be able dislodge the object is a matter of seconds, but if not, it’s best to have an ambulance on it’s way sooner.
B = BACK BLOWS
Lean the person forward while seated or standing. Hold their shoulder for support and give up to 5 firm back blows, striking the upper back between the shoulder blades with the heel of your palm. Check after each blow to see whether it was effective before continuing.
A small child or infant can be placed chest down across your lap, ideally with their head positioned lower than their body.
C is for CHEST THRUSTS
If back blows are unsuccessful, lay the person on their back on the floor give up to 5 sharp thrusts on the lower half of the sternum (roughly the centre of the chest). Use overlapped hands much like CPR, but with shorter, sharper compressions.
Alternate between 5 black blows and 5 chest thrusts until the airway is clear.
If the person becomes unconscious, roll on their side to sweep any loose matter from the mouth, then start CPR and apply an AED if available.
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