Member Blog: Stuart McCarthy-Thompson

Choking – would you know how to help?

September 7th, 2017

I gave a presentation today (7th Sept) at Action Business Club about how to help someone who is choking. It’s a core part of most first aid courses and one of the topics most discussed during training.

Whilst the prospect of someone choking is daunting, the first aid techniques are very effective. Here’s an outline of the techniques discussed.

Is the person partially choking?

It may be that the casualty’s own efforts might help intially. However, they will appear to be in difficulty and display some of the following signs and symptoms,

  • Redness in the face
  • Coughing or gasping
  • Holding their throat or chest
  • Wide-eyed

Helping a person who is partially choking

Reassure and support the casualty whilst encouraging them to continue coughing to try and dislodge the obstruction.


Is the person fully choking?

The casualty now needs first aid attention and will display the following signs and symptoms,

  • Distress
  • Redness (initially) followed by paleness or blueness in the face and around the nose and mouth
  • No sound/unable to speak
  • Holding their throat or chest
  • Saliva from the mouth

Helping a person who is fully choking

Reassure the casualty and stand alongside them.

Supporting them at the chest with one hand, deliver up to 5 back blows between their shoulder blades using the heel of your other hand.

If choking is not alleviated, continue with 5 abdominal thrusts as follows.

Bring your arms around the casualty’s midriff. Placing a fist between the casualty’s navel and breastbone with one hand, enclose with your other hand and perform up to 5 thrusts inwards and upwards.

If choking is still occurring, call 999 and then continue with cycles of 5 back blows followed by 5 abdominal thrusts.

Once your efforts are successful at any stage in this process, stay with the casualty while they recover. If you are in any doubt during their recovery, particularly after carrying out abdominal thrusts, it is advised to seek medical attention.


These techniques are appropriate for adults who are conscious and choking.

Attendance at a first aid or paediatric first aid training course will also give you the practical skills to accompany the theory. A first aid course will also guide you through what to do if a casualty is unconscious.

 

 

 

 

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