Imagine you were out for a meal and someone on the next table began choking on their food? Would you know what to do? Jason Varney, a Service Manager at Fairfield Control Systems in Retford, had just that experience on Saturday 3rd June 2017. Jason had recently attended a first aid course with How 2 Save A Life and had been taught how to treat a choking adult.
Jason was shopping with his wife and daughter when they decided to get some lunch at a pub in town. The pub was fairly busy but they managed to find a table behind two women also out enjoying lunch. While waiting for their lunch to arrive Jason noticed one of the women stand up from her chair. He could immediately tell that she was choking and unable to breathe. The lady’s friend attempted to perform abdominal thrusts on her, but she was not strong enough to help.
What flashed through Jason’s mind was that he needed to assist. Having just attended a first aid course with How 2 Save A Life, he immediately sprung into action. Approaching the casualty, he ascertained that she was indeed choking and unable to speak or cough. He then gave her five blows between the shoulder blades. This did not dislodge the obstruction so he placed his arms around her waist and began performing abdominal thrusts. The first abdominal thrust didn’t work, but the second one dislodged the obstruction and the woman started to breathe normally again.
After the food was dislodged, Jason instructed the woman to sit down on a chair. She didn’t want an ambulance to be called, so he stayed with her for a few minutes until he was comfortable she required no further treatment.
After the incident Jason told How 2 Save A Life: “Both of the women could not thank me enough and were so grateful that I reacted as quickly as I did. Other customers in the pub also came up to me and thanked me. Once I returned back to my table the gravity of what I had done hit me and I started shaking from the emotion of it all. Real life situations like this show the importance and justification of attending first aid courses.”
How 2 Save A Life first aid courses include how to treat choking adults, children and babies. The basic protocol is as follows:-
Choking adult or child
- Ask the casualty “Are you choking?” to determine whether they can speak, and rule out other issues (eg. Anaphylaxis).
- Ask the casualty if they can cough the obstruction up. If they can, DO NOT hit them on the back since this could make the obstruction drop further down their airway.
- If they are unable to cough, perform back blows – bend them forward and hit them firmly with the heel of your hand between their shoulder blades. Repeat this up to five times if necessary.
- If back blows do not work stand behind the casualty, wrap your arms around their waist placing one fist just above their belly button. Put the other hand on top of your fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards (Tip: aim for the casualty’s chin). Repeat this up to five times if necessary.
- If the first cycle of back blows and abdominal thrusts do not work repeat for another two cycles.
- If treatment is proving ineffective, or if the casualty becomes unconscious, call 999/112 and be prepared to commence CPR if necessary.
- If you have performed abdominal thrusts seek medical attention due to potential injuries. Call NHS 111 for advice.
- Sit down, place the baby over your arm, and support your arm with your knee.
- Perform back blows – strike firmly with the heel of your hand between the baby’s shoulder blades up to five times.
- If back blows do not work perform chest thrusts. DO NOT perform abdominal thrusts on a baby! Using two fingers “stab” the baby’s chest sharply and repeat up to five times if necessary.
- If the first cycle of back blows and chest thrusts do not work repeat for another two cycles.
- If treatment is proving ineffective, or if the baby becomes unconscious, call 999/112 and be prepared to commence CPR if necessary.
- Seek medical attention due to potential injuries. If you have performed abdominal thrusts call 999/112 and ask for an ambulance. Otherwise, call NHS 111 for advice.
Download and print our Choking Adult poster for your work or school notice board.