12 days of Christmas: Choking with Kevin McCallister
Date: Wednesday, 12 December 2018. -
When he’s not setting traps to catch burglars, Kevin McCallister likes to brush up on his first aid knowledge. On the eighth day of our first aid Christmas special, he is here to share his wisdom about choking and what you can do to help a choking casualty.
Choking can be classified as mild or severe and is where an object has become partially or completely stuck in the throat. This causes the muscles in the throat to spasm, making breathing difficult or impossible.
It is vital to keep airways (nose, mouth, throat or lungs) open, so that air can travel through to our lungs and transfer oxygen into our blood. A blockage to the airway is a life-threatening emergency that should be immediately treated.
Blockages to the airway can be internal, such as swallowing an object or swelling as a result of a burn or allergic reaction, or it can be external, through strangulation.
Partial/Mild Blockage – If a casualty has a mild blockage, they are still able to speak, cough and breathe. You should encourage them to stay calm and cough to try and remove the obstruction.
Complete/Severe Blockage – If a casualty is unable to speak, cough or breathe, then it is unlikely that coughing alone will free the blockage. Acting fast is important, or the victim will start to lose responsiveness and will require CPR.
How to treat a choking adult/child
From getting their heads blow-torched, to getting hit in the face with an iron, Harry and Marv the burglars deal with many first aid injuries while trying to find Kevin McCallister. However, one thing they do not encounter is choking, which is lucky for them, because without appropriate first aid this can be fatal.
Here’s how to respond if an adult starts choking:
- Encourage the casualty to bend forward from the waist and support them with one hand.
- With the other hand, deliver up to 5 sharp back blows with the heel of your hand. This should be done between the choking victim’s shoulder blades.
- If the obstruction isn’t cleared after the back blows have been completed, you must stand behind the casualty and place both of your arms around them. Encourage them to lean forward, as before, and then provide them with 5 abdominal thrusts. This can be done by placing one fist between the belly button and the bottom of the breastbone and the other fist on top of that. Pull the fists sharply inwards and upwards to deliver an abdominal thrust. This should be carried out 5 times too.
- Check the casualty’s mouth for obstructions and repeat 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts up to 3 times. If the airway is still not cleared, call for an ambulance and continue treating the patient until help arrives.
- If they become unresponsive, then you must prepare to resuscitate.
How to treat a choking infant
For patients under 1, treatment for choking must be carried out differently to support the baby’s head.
- Lay the infant down along your forearm, so that their head is lower than their chest.
- Deliver 5 back blows with the heel of one hand between the infant’s shoulder blades. Check their mouth for obstructions between each back blow.
- If the airway is still blocked, then you must turn the infant onto their back and place two fingers on the breastbone, thrusting sharply inwards and upwards. Repeat this movement up to 5 times, again checking for obstructions after each thrust.
- If the blockage has not cleared, repeat steps 2 and 3 up to 3 more times.
- Call for an ambulance if the blockage is still there and be prepared to perform CPR if the infant becomes unresponsive.
Although Kevin likes to cause trouble, he knows how essential it is to share first aid tips. Especially for emergencies like choking, which can sadly be fatal without immediate intervention.
Give up? Or are you thirsty for more? Keep your eyes peeled for more of our Christmas first aid specials!
If you would like to learn more about choking, get in touch by tweeting us @ImpTraining.