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The manoeuvre has long since been superseded by another process that won’t leave grandma with a crushed liver and ruptured spleen (in the unlikely event she survives).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?

  1. Try to calm them down and get them to cough hard to remove the object. This is hard because choking people will often panic.
  2. Call your local emergency number to seek medical assistance.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. If you still have no luck, keep alternating back blows and chest thrusts until the ambulance arrives.
  6. 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).

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