Emergency Airway Management

The Heimleich can be performed on yourself as an emergency airway management procedure, too.
The Heimleich can be performed on yourself as an emergency airway management procedure, too.

Emergency Airway Management of Obstructions -Choking

The Body’s Emergency Airway Management Technique for Choking is Coughing!

     Emergency airway management for choking focuses on helping the individual use their natural reflexes to cough out the obstruction or to create an artificial cough using the Hemeick maneuver.  Slapping someone on the back to “help” them cough interferes with that natural ability and worsens the situation. 

 

     Coughing is the body’s way of ridding itself of unwanted trash from the lungs. When we cough, the lungs open wide, expelling debris along with air.  Irritants stimulate a cough reflex. Hitting someone on the back may throw off the natural rhythm of the lung’s efforts to clean itself. 

 

The Body’s Emergency Airway Management Process in Action 

  1. Coughing creates increased internal pressure.
  2. It forces air upward and outward.
  3. Mucous, aspirations, irritants, obstructions, etc., exit the lungs as the pressure builds and explodes out of the airway with the cough’s release.

 

Since we were blessed with such an effective emergency airway management system by God,  if someone coughs forcefully, our best choice is to standby, not intervene, and offer assistance only if it does not work. 

     If a severe obstruction develops and emergency airway management is not successful, you must get ready to intervene quickly. The absence of air to the brain can lead to death in 4-6 minutes.  Therefore, if you ask them, “Can you speak,” and the answer is… (silence), read  the article “Heimlich Maneuver Procedure–Conscious Adult or Child.”

A-B-C's of Emergency Airway management

Know Your ABCs

When learning to provide emergency airway management, one of the ways we remember “what to do when” is to think of our A-B-Cs.  A=Airway, B= Breathing, C=Circulation.

Check for Obstructed Airway First

   As you can see, emergency airway management is the priority in that sequence. If someone is not breathing, initially check for airway obstruction.  If an obstructed airway is identified, clearing the airway using the Heimlich maneuver takes priority. If the airway is clear, proceed with rescue breathing.

Check for a Pulse Next

    Oxygen cannot circulate without a pulse.  Therefore, a heartbeat must be present. Letter “C” stands for circulation and requires chest compressions to begin if a pulse is not present.

Emergency Response Techniques

     Learn the steps to Emergency Response Techniques by clicking on the provided link in the videos.  The videos give you a visual of the procedures to understand what and how to do things.  I encourage you to consider taking a class and getting certified for better preparation. 

For Emergency Airway Management, pinch the noise and lift up the chin as you tilt back the head to begin mouth breathing.
For Emergency Airway Management, pinch the noise and lift up the chin as you tilt back the head to begin mouth breathing.
All ages can administer Emergency Airway Management techniques when properly trained.
All ages can administer Emergency Airway Management techniques when properly trained.

Emergency Airway Management - Rescue Breathing

If you discover a person lying on the ground who appears unconscious, check them to see if they are breathing. Shake them and shout to see if they respond.  If they do not, follow the steps below.

  1. Place your fingers from one hand on their chin and the heel of your other hand on their forehead.
  2. Lift the person’s chin while tilting their head back to open their airway.
  3. Lean in close to their mouth to listen for breathing and determine if you feel their breath on your cheek.
  4. If not, pinch their nose and cover their mouth with your mouth. (this is assuming you are doing respirations for your family member, not a stranger). Note: You want your lips to be somewhat loose and relaxed as you do this. Tight lips prevent you from making a good seal around the mouth.  
  5. If you hear a squeak, the air is leaking out. Try again. Adjust your mouth’s seal until it fits securely onto the mouth of the other person. Continue to adjust your position until you can blow in enough air to see the chest rise.
  6. Once the chest rises, give a breath once every three-five seconds.

Training Courses Available Through: 

Protrainings

American Heart Association 

American Red Cross

 

Emergency Airway Management includes leaning a person forward with jaw supported to deliver back blows.
Emergency Airway Management includes leaning a person forward with jaw supported to deliver back blows.
Hand placement for administering the Heimlich maneuver is directly below the ribs at the level of the xiphoid process.
Hand placement for administering the Heimlich maneuver is directly below the ribs at the level of the xiphoid process.

Heimlich Maneuver as Emergency Airway Management for Adult or Child

How do you know if you need to use the Heimlich Maneuver?

If you believe someone may be choking, ask them if they need help. If they attempt to answer you and can’t, there’s your answer.  A person cannot speak with a completely blocked (obstructed) airway.  Call 9-1-1 to get help right away and begin the steps for the Heimlich maneuver.

  • Standing behind the person, wrap your arms around their waist. Make a fist with one hand. Place the thumb side against the abdomen slightly above the belly button and well below the xiphoid process (tip of the breastbone). Then grasp your fist with the other hand.

(Note:  If the person is pregnant or you can’t get your arms around their belly, you can put your arms under their armpits and encircle their chest doing chest thrusts instead of abdominal thrusts. In that case, set your clenched fist against the middle of the sternum avoiding the margins of the ribs.)

  • Squeeze the person’s abdomen using quick inward and upward thrusts. Each thrust should be a separate and distinct movement. Each thrust should be forceful enough to create an artificial cough that will dislodge the object.
  • Continue providing thrusts until the obstruction clears or until the person passes out.
  • If the person stops breathing, begin emergency respiratory breathing.
 Heimlich Maneuver Procedure – Unconscious Adult or Child
  • If the person becomes unconscious while attempting to remove the obstruction, carefully help them to the floor. If someone has not called 9-1-1 yet, make sure someone does now.
  • Tilt the person’s head back to open the airway. Check for breathing and a pulse. If either is missing, begin CPR.

Infant Choking

1    Look in the infant’s mouth to see if anything is present, but do not put your finger in the mouth.

2   Lean the infant facedown, so he/she is straddling your arm with head lower than their trunk. Rest your forearm on your thigh and deliver five back blows with the heel of your hand between the infant’s shoulder blades.

 

3.  If that does not remove the obstruction, turn them over and supporting their head, jaw, and chest, lean the baby’s head down over your thigh and administer chest thrusts between the nipple lines on the sternum. Use only two fingers (index and middle finger) for chest compressions.

4.   Repeat until the airway is clear or the infant becomes unconscious.

Rescue Breathing Unsuccessful; Pulse Stops--What Next?

     If a choking victim becomes unconscious, they relax, and the object may fall out. However, the obstruction is so tight at times that it won’t come out, and no air can get through. When you check for breathing, you find none–within seconds, there is no pulse. Your only choice is to start CPR or wait for the ambulance to arrive with help.

Do you know CPR?

     If you have never taken a CPR class as a caregiver, I recommend that you enroll in one. I realize it’s intimidating. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter if you pass or not. What matters is that you know what you need to do.

     Why?  Because when an emergency happens, you need to have something you can do to help. Waiting on that ambulance to arrive seems like a lifetime.  You need to have something you can do that you know can be helpful to the situation.  If you know something about how to do CPR, even if you’re not good enough to pass the class, anything you can do is better than nothing. You can help both the person in need and yourself at that moment because you were able to contribute to trying to help the person survive—regardless of the outcome. So, take a class. Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you did. 

     I do not intend to teach CPR on this website. I will provide you a website with a video to review and a link to the American Heart Association site to take a course in CPR. However, I don’t want to give incorrect information on something so important; therefore, I’ll recommend that you learn CPR.

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