Who, What, Why: How easy is it to do the Heimlich manoeuvre?

  • 11 February 2014
Media captionWinston Marshall from St John Ambulance demonstrates how to deal with a choking person

Hollywood actor Clint Eastwood has been credited with saving the life of another man who was choking on a piece of cheese. But how easy is it to do?

The actor reportedly realised the fellow party guest couldn't breathe and performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on him. The technique requires a rescuer to carry out abdominal thrusts on a choke victim to dislodge the blockage.

A first aider will initially establish the person is choking. They may be holding their throat, turning red in the face, and attempting to cough.

Before any abdominal thrusts are attempted, the rescuer will first resort to back blows. The person choking will be bent forwards slightly, while the rescuer supports them by putting one arm across the patient's shoulders. The five blows are delivered with an open hand between the shoulder blades. While the rescuer delivers the blows, they will make sure to look at the patient's mouth and not their back. If the object is not dislodged, the rescuer will proceed to five abdominal thrusts.

The rescuer will place their arms under the arms of the victim and hold them around their chest. The rescuer is looking to place their hands at the centre of the abdomen in order to artificially manipulate the diaphragm into producing a cough that will dislodge the object.

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