Dealing with Choking Adults & Children

Adult & Child Choking

Use DRABC to remember the primary assessment sequence.

Choking

One of the most successful skills that a first aider can learn is the treatment of choking. Things such as food, sweats or small objects can easily become lodged in the airway if they are accidentally "breathed in" rather than swallowed. Recognising that someone is choking is essential for a successful outcome.

Choking Guidelines

After successful treatment seek immediate medical attention if the casualty has received abdominal thrusts, has difficultly swallowing, a persistent cough or feels like an object is still stuck ion the throat.

  • No Abdominal Thrusts

    on a pregnant woman

  • Repeat

    at a ratio of 5:5

  • Start CPR

    if casualty is unconscious

Skill Performance

If a casualty is unable to cough, speak, is struggling or unable to breathe and has a distressed look on their face then they may need help in expelling an object lodged in their airway:

  • 1Instruct the casualty to cough. If ineffective then they need help.
  • 2Lean casualty forward and give up to 5 sharp blows between shoulder blades with heel of hand.
  • 3If uncleared stand behind casualty and deliver up to 5 abdominal thrusts.
  • 4Place both arms around them, make a fist and grasp with other hand just above belly button.
  • 5Pull sharply inwards and upwards up to 5 times.
  • 6If uncleared repeat the entire process until cleared or casualty becomes unconscious.
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Common Barriers to Action

"Imperfect care given is better than perfect care withheld."

Nervousness or anxiousness

A perfectly normal reaction when dealing with medical emergencies. However you must trust your training. When you follow the priorities of care as outlined during your course you are giving the casualty the best possible chance of survival.

Guilt if there is not a positive outcome

Some may hesitate when thinking about how they may feel if the casualty does not recover after delivering first aid. There is no guarantee that a casualty will live or reciver but be confident that what you offer has the potential to make a difference.

Fear of imperfect performance

People hesitate thinking they can not properly help an injured or ill casualty. It is seldom true that the smallest of errors will hurt or kill a casualty. If you focus on perfection you´ll have the tendancy to do nothing at all.

Fear of making a casualty worse

The most serious medical emergency is when a casualty is not responsive and not breathing. Some people fear they may make them worse, however it is not possible to make someone worse who is already in the worst state of health.

Fear of infection

Some people fear being infected by the person they are assisting. Research has shown that the chance of this happening by performing CPR is very low and in any case you may use barriers to minimise the risk of disease transmission.

Responsibility concerns

People are afraid of helping because of the fear of being sued. In most regions of the world there are accepted legal doctrines and laws that have been put in place to encourage people to come to the aid of others.

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