Who knows how to do the Heimlich manoeuvre? You’ve probably seen it hundreds of times in movies and on TVs. It’s a great thing you know, if you would rather cause internal injuries than actually help someone.
The manoeuvre has long since been superseded by another process that won’t leave grandma with a crushed liver and ruptured spleen (in the unlikely event she survives).
So what do you do if someone is choking?
- Try to calm them down and get them to cough hard to remove the object. This is hard because choking people will often panic.
- Call your local emergency number to seek medical assistance.
- Get them to bend over, e.g. over a chair, and give them five hard pats to the middle of the back. Check after each whack to see if the obstruction has been dislodged
- Give them 5 chest thrusts – put your hand on their back, and the other hand in the position you would place it for CPR, and squeeze – not as quick as you would for CPR, but more sharply.
- If you still have no luck, keep alternating back blows and chest thrusts until the ambulance arrives.
- If they become unconscious at any time, call for emergency services and do your normal CPR stuff.
St John Ambulance has a fact sheet for choking (and for a whole bunch of other useful first aid stuff).