2007-09-24 / Local News

Do you know what to do when someone is choking?

"There has been a change in the techniques taught by the Red Cross."
By SCOTT POWELL Ledger Staff Writer spowell@gaffneyledger.com

The American Red Cross has expanded its recommendations on how to treat adults who are choking on food.

For many decades, the most common way to help a choking person was to put your arms around the victim's waist and begin a series of abdominal thrusts. This method was often called the Heimlich maneuver after Cincinnati Dr. Henry Heimlich, who made public this medical procedure for treating a choking victim.

Granard Middle seventh grader Jordan Wilson used abdominal thrusts to save his classmate Aldrich Evans from choking on a hot dog Aug. 30 in the school cafeteria.

While this method is still correct, the American Red Cross now recommends people use a series of five back blows between the shoulder blades. This should be followed by five abdominal thrusts to treat a choking victim.

An easy way to remember is "5 on 5."

The American Red Cross is one of the main organizations involved in training people to do CPR and perform first aid.

The Red Cross expanded its first aid guidelines for choking rescue following a scientific review, said Kate Augustine, director of health services at the Red Cross office in Spartanburg. The review was done by the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation.

"There has been a change in the techniques taught by the Red Cross," Augustine said. "Every five years the experts come together and reassess the information we use in first aid training."

Doctors concluded following a scientific study that back blows when used in combination with abdominal and chest thrusts are the most effective way to help choking victims, Augustine said. Chest thrusts are similar to abdominal thrusts but performed higher on the chest. The Red Cross continues to recommend the use of abdominal thrusts if the initial use of back blows does not successfully stop a person from choking.

The American Heart Association recommends the use of chest thrusts for pregnant women or people who are obese.

The Red Cross no longer no longer uses the term "Heimlich maneuver" in its first aid training courses. The organization's policy manual cites the fact that abdominal thrusts are a more descriptive word of the first aid action being taught.

The main sign for choking is a person's hands clutched to the throat. If this signal isn't given, look for these indications: an inability to talk, difficulty breathing, inability to cough forcefully, and loss of consciousness.

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