(Mirror Daily, United States) – Henry Heimlich, the man who invented the Heimlich maneuver, finally got the chance to use his method in a real emergency situation last week, when he saved an 87-year-old woman from choking.
It is important to know how to perform this technique, especially on Memorial Day, when there is a lot of food. According to the National Safety Council, choking is the fourth most encountered cause of unintentional injury-related deaths.
There are a few tips on how to perform the maneuver that Dr. Stephen Dunlop from Hennepin County Medical Center advises people to follow. The first one is to assess the situation to determine if someone coughs and makes noises. In this case, the best option is to encourage them to keep coughing.
However, if they start to change color or stop making noises, then you should administer the maneuver. Second, you should tell someone to call 911 quickly, because time is crucial during choking emergencies. Third, you need to stay exactly behind the person and inform them about what you are doing in order to avoid panicking them more.
Fourth, use your dominant hand to make a fist and place the thumb side of it halfway between the person’s belly button and sternum. Then you need to use your other hand to grab your fist and start doing firm, inward and upward thrusts with your hand to help dislodge the object which is blocking the airway of the person.
Dr. Dunlop advises people to start with moderate pressure and get more aggressive only if the food doesn’t want to come out. Then you should continue performing the Heimlich maneuver until the situation is resolved or at least changes. For instance, if they start coughing or removing air, you should stop and let them keep coughing.
However, if the person who is choking becomes unconscious, you should lay him or her down and start chest compressions immediately. Still, the Heimlich maneuver is not recommended for pregnant women or young children. Best would be to use back slaps in the case of kids and chest compression for pregnant women.
Dr. Heimlich invented the abdominal thrusting method in the 1970s to help choking victims. Even if he demonstrated it many times throughout the years, the 96-year-old surgeon used the Heimlich maneuver for the first time last week in a real life critical situation.