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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What first aid should be given to someone who is choking?

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  • Tim Cottman - Fields

    Exercise Physiologist, Physiotherapist

    Tim is considered a movement specialist - using exercise, education and hands on therapy as his main treatments, helping everyone achieve optimal function. His interests … View Profile

    An episode of choking can be quite confronting to assess and treat; like everything in first aid it is best to remain calm and use reassurance. First aid is designed to be easy to learn and apply (hopefully this makes sense) 

    Choking can be divided in two aspects:

    1. Partial blockage

    The individual will be able to breathe and be in distress and be coughing.

    Your management includes: promote coughing, reassure the individual and monitor the individual for more severe symptoms (that may be turning into a complete blockage)

    2. Complete Blockage

    In a complete blockage the individual may not be in as much stress and will begin to lose the ability to breath: They will show signs of reduced breathing capacity like going white or blue and have very shallow breathing.

    This is a medical emergency and a ‘000’ call should be made if you suspect it is a complete blockage; after this you can perform 2 techniques to help remove the obstruction - back blows and chest thrusts (these are ONLY used in a complete blockage).

    Perform 5 back blows – a solid whack between the shoulder blades in a forward and upward direction using your palm.

    Perform 5 chest thrusts – similar to CPR compressions but more sharper on the sternum (chest bone) 

    After each round of 5 re-check the airway to see if the obstruction has moved. continue to perform these as necessary. 

    NOTE: If at any point the individual stops breathing/ becomes unconscious perform CPR. Furthermore, your technique changes for infants and children 

    The following website describes this…

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