When my daughter was a few months old we lived in an apartment complex filled with many families and small children. It was during my pregnancy with her, my first child, that I began learning about first aid hoping I would never have to use it, but it was important that I knew. I learned about possible pregnancy and delivery complications, then first aid for infants, children and adults. I learned how I could best handle these situations if I found myself alone. And alone I was when the time arrived.
One afternoon, while home with my little one, preparing for a walk, I heard the desperate cries of a young woman screaming for help. As I looked out the peep hole of my front door I could see a child about the age of 4, become very red in the face she swapped his back, “He’s choking! Somebody please help!” My maternal instincts switched into gear and I had no thoughts as I opened my door and began to give the helpless child the Heimlich maneuver. After 3-4 thrusts, out came a large piece of candy followed by vomit all over my hands. A small price to pay for saving a little boy’s life. She could not stop thanking me enough, but I didn’t need any acknowledgement – it was God who deserved all the praise for His perfect coordination and righteous wisdom.
That was a day I won’t ever forget. Had I not read about performing the Heimlich maneuver on my own time, I might have not been able to save the young child’s life. Who knows if anyone would have gotten to him on time. But God gave me the desire and I obeyed, then He recalled that wisdom for me to use that day, planting me near a child in need. Divine intervention!
The Heimlich Maneuver is a first-aid procedure used for dislodging an obstruction from a person’s windpipe (trachea) blocking air flow, preventing the person from breathing. The Heimlich maneuver is done by applying firm and sudden pressure to the abdomen just below the sternum (breastbone). This will cause a jolt of pressure to rise, forcing the obstruction upwards and out of the trachea. This first aid procedure must be done as soon as possible, as choking can cut off oxygen to the brain within minutes.
The Heimlich maneuver will be done a little different for children and adults, versus an infant. It will also have to be done differently when assisting someone whose waistline is larger than your arm span. A slightly different technique from the above will be used on a woman who is noticeably pregnant, and another version would be used on yourself should you happen to choke while you’re alone.
Because of this, it is imperative you learn all 5 life-saving maneuvers, none of which will be difficult to remember. Once you’ve learned one technique, you’ve learned the basics for all 5.
First, the universal sign for choking is to place both hands at your neck. If you see someone doing this, and perhaps hear no breathing or obstructed breathing, the person is choking.
- Call 911
- For infants, sit down and rest the infant’s abdomen/torso over your left arm, with the infant facing downward towards the ground.
- Use that hand to support the infant’s neck and head by placing your hand in the area between the infant’s collar bone and chin.
- Be careful not to place pressure on the infant’s throat as doing so could lodge the object further or could prevent the object from dislodging altogether.
- The infant’s head should be lower to the ground than its bottom, utilizing the force of gravity.
- Place your right hand under the infant’s sternum (breastbone), applying pressure to the stomach.
- Begin 5 firm thrusts.
- If the object has not dislodged, continuing performing 5 thrusts at a time until paramedics arrive or until the object dislodges from the throat. The infant will still need medical care.
- You will know the object has dislodged when the object becomes visible, leaves the mouth and the infant begins to breathe on his or her own. Until then, do not stop performing the procedure.
- If the item dislodges but the infant is not breathing, check for a pulse by placing your fingers at the infant’s upper inner arm between the elbow and shoulder. Begin CPR, (instructions HERE).
For a CHILD or an ADULT, not everyone will know the universal sign for choking. Because of this, look for signs such as the is unable to speak or breathe or unable to cough, or otherwise signaling for help.
- Call 911
- The person should then be in a standing position.
- Help the person stand and lean forward facing down toward the ground. If they are unable to stand, perform the maneuver as best as you can from where they are.
- Place your arms around their waist, making a fist. Grab the fist with your other hand.
- Place your fist at the person’s midsection, at the area between the breastbone and navel.
- Firmly pull your fist towards yourself using an inward and upward motion at the same time.
- Repeat until the obstruction is dislodged and the person can breathe on their own.
- PREGNANT Person: if the person is noticeably pregnant, you will place your fists higher up just below the breastbone and follow the same instructions as listed above.
- Overweight Person: if your arms cannot fit around the person’s waistline, thrust their upper abdomen against a hard edge like a round-corner table or countertop, or use the back of a chair. OR you can have the person lay down on the ground and use both of your hands (one on top of the other) and use the inward/upward sweep motion to apply pressure for dislodging.
- Call 911 even if you cannot speak.
- Make a fist, place it on your abdomen below the breastbone and above the navel, thumbs in.
- Grab your fist with the other hand and being pushing inward and upwards at the same time.
- Repeat until the object is dislodged and/or until you are able to cough or breathe.
- Standby for paramedics to arrive and assist you, You will need further medical care.
If this position does not work on yourself, you try the following:
- Thrust your upper abdomen against a hard edge like a round-corner table or countertop, or use the back of a chair.
There are also many videos online that can assist you with learning how to use all 5 Heimlich maneuvers. Always call 911 and try to assist the person as best as you can.
Again, if the person is unconscious after dislodging the object, perform CPR immediately.
God bless you and yours!
Dear Lord, we thank You for Your wisdom and care. We ask that You impart Your wisdom upon us that we would know how to help one another in a time of need. We pray for the safety of Your children, Father God. We know that You are the ultimate Physican, and we pray You would do your work through our hands as we reach out to help others, Lord. Lead and guide us, that we would not falter. We pray we would never have to use these maneuvers, and if we do, then we know it will be a testimony unto You. We thank You for your protection over ourselves, our loved ones, and all Your children. Help us to be goo stewards of one another, to carry each other’s burdens, that You may be glorified, and the enemy defeated. We pray for Your victory of every situation and circumstance in our lives, and for Your ever-present help in times of trouble. We love You, Father God. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray, Amen.
“Wisdom Better Than Folly” Ecclesiastes 9:11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.
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