FIRST AID: How to stop someone choking

The Heimlich manoeuvre                           Picture: Shutterstock
The Heimlich manoeuvre Picture: Shutterstock
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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: how to prevent someone choking.

1. If you think someone’s choking, ask them ‘Are you choking?’ If they can breathe, speak or cough they might be able to clear their throat. If they can’t do any of these they need your help straight away.

2. Encourage them to cough and remove any obvious obstruction from their mouth.

3. If coughing fails give five sharp back blows. To do this, help them lean forward supporting their upper body with one hand. With the heel of your other hand give the five blows between their shoulder blades. Then check if there’s anything in their mouth.

4. If this fails give five abdominal thrusts. Stand behind them and put your arms around their waist. Place one hand in a clenched fist between their belly button and the bottom of their chest. With your other hand, grasp your fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards up to five times. Check their mouth again.

For those looking for quick, easily accessible first aid information, the St John Ambulance app is available free on smartphones and the website ( offers demo videos, an interactive game, and lots of free advice.

For more information about first aid courses please call 0303 003 0101.