First Aid: How to deal with choking

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Janine Andrade,  Siobhan Edwards-Bannon and Zoe Boxhall with the pupils learning about the human skeleton .
Picture : Habibur Rahman (171637-3)

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St John Ambulance, the nation’s leading first aid charity, has teamed up with The News to bring you some simple but life-saving first aid tips. This week: Choking.

Choking is caused by a foreign object that is stuck at the back of the throat that may block the throat or cause muscular spasm. Young children especially are prone to choking.

A child may choke on food, or may put small objects into their mouth and cause a blockage of the airway.

If the blockage of the area airway is mild, the casualty should be able to clear it themselves by coughing. If it is severe they will be unable to speak, cough, or breathe, and can lose consciousness.

If the casualty is a child or adult, follow these steps:

Ask the casualty ‘Are you choking?’ If the casualty is breathing, encourage them to cough to try to remove the obstruction themselves.

If they can’t speak, cough or breathe, bend them forward. Give up to five sharp blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.

Check their mouth, but do not do a finger sweep of the mouth. If choking persists, stand behind the casualty. Put both arms around them and put one fist between the navel and the bottom of the breastbone.

Grasp your fist with your other hand, and pull sharply inwards and upwards up to five times. Recheck the mouth. Repeat the back slaps and thrusts until the obstruction clears.

If after three cycles it still has not cleared, call 999/112 for emergency help. Continue the sequence until help arrives or the obstruction is cleared, or they lose consciousness. If they lose consciousness, open the airway and check breathing.

For more information about first aid courses, please call 0844 770 4800.