BLS Basic life support (Latest 2020 AHA)

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Relief of choking

Choking relief in Adults

Choking can happen when a food bolus or some sort of solid object blocks the airway. The air cannot come in and out of lungs. The victim will not be able to speak.
In adults, food is the most common culprit.
If the choking is partial (some air movement is possible), the victim may speak with a muffled voice.
In either case, the rescuer must act fast.
If the victim is able to cough, encourage them to cough violently.
If that is not helping, perform a Heimlich maneuver as a measure of choking relief in Adults.


Image from Wikipedia. Notice the leg position.

– Stand behind the victim. Place one foot between the legs of the victim for balance. Wrap your arms around the victim. Ask the victim to bend forward slightly.
– Make a fist with one hand. Place it slightly above the victim’s navel region.
– Grab the fist with the other hand. Press hard into the abdomen quickly, upwards and backwards — as if you are trying to lift the person up.
– Perform between six and 10 abdominal thrusts until the blockage is dislodged or the victim loses consciousness.
– If the choking object comes out, you may stop your attempts and keep the victim in a comfortable position.
– Soon, the person might collapse if he’s not able to breathe for a long time. Keep an eye on the level of consciousness of the victim all along. If you think the victim is losing consciousness, lean back slowly and place the victim on the floor gently, preventing a fall / injury.

Choking in an unconscious victim

As soon as the victim goes unconscious, start the BLS sequence (Check Response, Call EMS and ask for AED, Begin CPR).
Start CPR with one slight modification.
Before every breath (during 30:2 CPR), open the airway and look for any visible object that can be retrieved.
If an object is not visible, continue CPR, NEVER perform a blind finger sweep as it might push the object further deep.

As we’ve covered the choking relief in Adults, we will be looking at pediatric choking relief in next topics.