What to do when someone is Conscious and Choking?

One of the scariest things for any parent, friend or loved one to see is someone choking. Choking deaths are very preventable and choking victims can easily be rescued with someone trained in CPR. CPR HCP courses are one of the classes in which candidates will learn to recognize and treat victims of choking emergencies. It is important to note that the material posted on this page is for information purposes only, to learn to treat and recognize victims that are choking take a workplace approved CPR HCP class today. To learn about conscious choking victims take a CPR HCP training course in Saskatoon. Training centres are located throughout Canada. Visit our location page for more course location information.

People can suffer from two different types of choking emergencies, mild and severe obstructions. Mild obstructions typically occur prior to severe obstructions so we will cover the steps to recognizing and treating mild obstructions first.

A mild obstruction, also known as a partial obstruction, is when the victim has adequate air exchange but can not speak effectively but can cry and cough. In this scenario the victim typically has his or her hands around the throat and coughing severely. The airway, the respiratory system that connects the lungs to the “outside world”, is partially blocked and causing discomfort to the victim. The rescuer(s) role in this circumstance is to encourage the victim to cough and to not interfere while the victim is trying to clear the blockage. The body has a effective system in removing the blockage by coughing. If successful, the blockage should be cleared and the patient will resume regular breathing.

If the victim stops coughing, and becomes silent ask the victim if he or she is choking. If they nod “yes” as they clutch their neck ask the victim if you can help, a rescuer must receive consent prior to helping the victim. If the victim nods “yes” again assume a stable position behind the victim. If possible have one foot between the victims’ legs to help ease the victim to the floor if they become unconscious. The following are the steps for abdominal thrusts for a conscious choking person:

  • The rescuer, while standing behind the victim, should make a fist with one hand
  • The rescuer should place the thumb side of the fist against the persons stomach, slightly above the navel and grasp the fist with the other hand
  • The rescuer should pull the fist into the victims’ abdomen and quickly thrust upward in the shape of a “J”. These thrusts can also be called “J-Thrusts”
  • The rescuer should focus on making 5 thrusts separately and as a distinct movement.
  • After 5 thrusts, the rescuer should position himself / herself next to the victim. The rescuer should keep one arm under the victims’ arm, holding the victims’ opposite shoulder.
  • With the free arm, which is behind the victim, the rescuer will give 5 back blows between the victims shoulder blades.
  • The rescuer will repeat the 5 back blows and 5 abdominal / “J” thrusts until the obstruction is removed or until the victim goes unconscious.

To learn about how to clear the obstruction on a unconscious choking victim select the next page under the FAQ’s heading. The material posted here is for information purposes only. Take a CPR HCP course to learn hands on training in advanced CPR techniques and how to handle choking conscious and unconscious victims.