Want to watch this video? Sign up for the course here. Or enter your email below to watch one free video.

Unlock This Video Now for FREE

This video is normally available to paying customers.
You may unlock this video for FREE. Enter your email address for instant access AND to receive ongoing updates and special discounts related to this topic.

Choking is something that could occur whether you are in a martial arts setting or even at home. It's one of the more common things as a first aider that you are going to have to deal with. There are different levels of choking. An initial level of choking would just be a partial obstruction. What we do when someone's choking, they will normally put their hands to their throat. It's the universal sign of choking. If someone is putting their hands to their throat and they are coughing, or they've got problems with their voice or wheezing, but they are still breathing, this is a partial airway obstruction. Something like a fish bone in the throat would be very, very uncomfortable and be quite a problem. However, they can still breathe.

Are you choking?

In order to find out if someone's breathing, we will ask them a direct question, "Are you choking?" If the person's saying, for instance, "Yes, I'm choking." Well, they are not choking for what we're about to talk about. This is a partial obstruction. What we're doing with this is we're allowing the person to cough. Try and relax them much as possible. Let them breathe. It may be that they need to see an emergency professional because it might be that something is stuck in their throat, but they are breathing. If you were to ask somebody, and they are not breathing, in other words, a complete obstruction within the throat due to a lump of food usually, something like that, is actually stuck there. No air's going in and out. The time is ticking away before they are going to become unconscious, and eventually, their heart's going to stop. This person we need to deal with fast. What we're doing with this is we're doing a series of back slaps and abdominal thrusts. The abdominal thrusts used to be referred to as the Heimlich manoeuvre. You might have heard that one before.

What we're going to start with, we're approaching the person and we're making sure the scene is safe. We're approaching them straightaway. We're asking them, "Are you choking?" We got no response. Pop one hand around the front, one hand on the back, lean them forward slightly, and then we're giving five sharp back blows between the shoulder blades. You give the first back blow and then you look to see if anything's come out. It's one, then look, and then two, then look. And then continue on until you have done the five back blows. If at that point you have still got the obstruction in the throat, then pop one hand round and you are putting the thumb side of your fist just above the belly button, pushing it in at this angle, the other hand around. What we are doing is giving five thrusts. We will pull in, and it's inwards and upwards. What's happening here is we are pushing onto the stomach which is pushing onto the lungs. And hopefully, the trapped air in the lung will then force the obstruction out.

With this, we are giving five, so we are pulling in and then we're checking to see if it's come out. And in, and then check if it's come out. If that hasn't worked, then we'll go back to the five back blows. Now as far as calling the emergency services, there's no problem calling them at any point in time, because you can also tell the person just stay on the phone. Now it's important if you have started doing abdominal thrusts on somebody that maybe you have done some internal injuries, so it's a good idea for them to be checked out by a medical professional anyway. If the person becomes unconscious, they are then going to drop to the floor, so be careful that you don't get hurt when they do drop. Maybe just guide them to the floor, just making sure they don't hit their head hard on the floor. Now this person, unless they show signs of breathing when they do hit the floor, this person is not breathing. Someone who is not breathing, we would start with chest compressions. Now, you are pushing down on the chest, in this case, the heart is probably still beating. But the idea of pushing down on the chest is that we can then force this air out.