Choking (First Aid For)

Determine if victim is able to speak or cough. Rescuer can ask “Are you choking?” Victim may be using the “universal distress signal” of choking: Clutching the neck between thumb and index finger.

Abdominal Thrust

Perform the Heimlich maneuver until the foreign body is expelled or the victim becomes unconscious. Stand behind victim and wrap your arms around victim’s waist. Press fist into abdomen with quick inward and upward thrusts.

Chest Thrust

For victims who are in advanced pregnancy or who are obese: Chest thrusts: Stand behind victim and place your arms under victim’s armpits to encircle the chest. Press with quick backward thrusts.

Performance Guidelines Obstructed Airway: If Victim Is or Becomes Unconscious
Activate EMS – Call 911.

  • Check for foreign body – Sweep deeply into mouth with hooked finger to remove foreign body.
  • Attempt rescue breathing – Open airway. Try to give 2 breaths. If needed, reposition the head and try again.
  • If airway is obstructed, perform Heimlich maneuver – Kneel astride the victim’s thighs. Place the heel of one hand on the victim’s abdomen, in the midline slightly above the navel and well below the tip of the xiphoid (the lowest part of the breastbone). Place the second hand on top of the first. Press into the abdomen with quick upward thrusts.
  • Repeat sequence until successful – Alternate these maneuvers in rapid sequence:
    • Check for foreign body.
    • Attempt rescue breathing.
    • Perform Heimlich maneuver.
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Written by American Institute for Preventive Medicine

Explore Wellness in 2021