Choking is the kind of emergency in
which the chance of getting the victim to a doctor in time is almost
nil. Without immediate help, the person can die, or at least suffer
permanent brain damage, within four minutes. That is all the more reason
for you to keep your wits about you and familiarise yourself with the
skills and techniques that might one day save a life - including your
Cough it out:
If the airway is only partially obstructed, violent coughing and
sputtering will generally dislodge the obstructing mass.
Perform the Heimlich manoeuvre:
If the victim is not getting air, and his/her throat is blocked, don't
wait for medical help. Take first-aid steps for choking immediately.
Stand behind the victim and wrap your arms around his waist. Place your
fist with the thumb side against the victim's abdomen slightly above the
navel and below the rib cage. Grasp your fist with your other hand and
pull it into the victim's abdomen with a quick upward thrust. Repeat the
movement several times if necessary. (The American red Cross also
recommends four sharp slaps between the shoulder blades before applying
the abdominal thrusts.)
If he's collapsed on the floor, press his abdomen with a quick upward
thrust with the heel of your hand.
If you are choking:
no one is present to aid you, you can save your own life by pressing
your fist into your abdomen with your other hand. Or lead forward to
press your abdomen over a solid object such as a piece of furniture.
Sweep it out:
Once the object has been dislodged, you can try to remove it manually,
but see it before you put a finger in the mouth, or you may force it
even further down the throat. Move your index finger along the inside of
the cheek to the base of the tongue. Using your finger as a hook,
dislodge the object and sweep it into the mouth so that it can be
After the rescue:
seek medical advice. Sometimes, internal damage may occur from the
abdominal thrust itself. The risk is however justified as the victim
will survive only if his airway is quickly cleared.