Two Life Saving Techniques: Heimlich And Self Heimlich
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Two Life Saving Techniques: Heimlich And Self Heimlich

Both these medical emergency Heimlich treatments can save a life; one might be of another person while the other might be you. Learn some basic information to be a rescuer for a choking victim or remove a foreign object from your own trachea.

Unless your work requires you to take a first aid & CPR class, you might never learn the Heimlich maneuver to save a life. Emergency treatment for a foreign object in the windpipe can have a choking victim live with your fast action. Without it infants or adults lack of breathing could lead to death because of lack of oxygen to the brain.

The diagnosis can be made by any lay person simply mostly by looking at a person being unable to breathe. A universal sign of choking is holding the two hands across the throat or neck area, however in this medical emergency, in my 44 years of nursing, I never witnessed anyone who used that alert to any rescuer. Passing that information to others will make it more known for adults to learn and teach too.

The Heimlich maneuver on adults is different than on children for the emergency thrusts to remove a foreign object from the trachea. The details of abdominal thrusts and the grasp can be practiced on resuscitative manikins for a real life like feel through contact with the life saving links below. In the authors experience that is hands on emergency medicine and first aid treatment for choking victims not able to be taught in an article such as this.

Self Heimlich is emergency treatment for those without a person nearby to perform the inward and upward thrusts to force the foreign object from the trachea or windpipe.  The concept with the Heimlich maneuver is to use the lungs to push the foreign object out of the airway using the air within those lungs. First aid on oneself is described here only as a guide in hope to entice you to attend a class to gain knowledge of the medical conditions that can create the need for using the Heimlich maneuver and the expertise in applying the Heimlich. The cost of the first aid & CPR course will be worth every penny you spend along with the few hours you are learning to be a rescuer to perhaps save your life.

Certified instructors are trained in the Heimlich maneuver to demonstrate how I will explain with only words, is in no way a substitute for Heimlich maneuver training by professional teachers.

There is roughly 3 to 5 minutes before collapse from lack of oxygen so speed is vital when alone and choking. Don't sit down and rest, don't eat or drink or call 911.  Find a railing, a chair back or a table edge. You may attempt the doubled up fist with the thumb up under the rib cage if and when you fall to the floor, but until that time use the devices described above while you are able to stand.

Aim for the area almost directly under the sternum or breast bone. With force lunge onto that chair, table edge, washing machine corner, stove edge or railing leaning to force the air out of the lungs to dislodge the foreign object from your airway. Cough if possible and remove any food in the mouth that a cough has produced. Call or see your doctor as soon as possible to check your health status after your self Heimlich maneuver. When vomiting occurs, turn your head to one side so there is no aspiration of fluid into the lungs.

This does not take the place of Heimlich training and is used as a first aid tool and not emergency medicine for this medical condition.

Resources:  http://www.urac.org

                    http://www.redcross.org

                    http://www.heart.org

Photograph courtesy wikipedia.org

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Comments (13)

Very important article to read and know. Very good. Voted up.

Very valuable information for everyone to learn more about. This deserves a vote up!

I have no idea about the self-heimlich, never thought we can administer that to ourselves. Great information!

Stuff everyone should know but hopefully never need.

very informative, thanks

I learned to do the self-heimlich in my certified days. I once thrust myself across the back of a chair. It did dislodge. I have performed the thrusts and have had the thrusts performed on me last year. This are good, workable life-saving techniques. I always keep in mind, if a person is making noise, their airways are opened and you're ahead in the game. Great guidelines and excellent reminder!

Out of votes so promoted on Digg. Thanks for the info! : )

This is such an important article. Thanks for writing it.

Ranked #3 in First Aid & CPR

Thank you for the added wisdom you impart on this important piece Roberta.

Invaluable article that could save someone's life one day. Well done, Roberta.

This is a very helpful article! Thanks for sharing!

This is good to know. I didn't know Heimlich maneuver can be done by oneself.

Very important to know. Voted up.

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