It can be a very scary experience to see someone who is choking. This happens when a piece of food, or another foreign object, partially or fully blocks the airway.

If it is partially blocked, the casualty may be able to cough and speak. If this is the case, encourage them to cough, to try and clear the blockage themselves.

However, in cases where the airway is severely blocked, the casualty may be unable to cough or talk. In this situation, prompt action is required.

Leaning the casualty forward and supporting them across the front of their chest with one of your arms, hit them on the back with your other hand, in between their shoulder blades, in an in and upward motion.

After each blow to the back, check to see if the blockage has been removed. If not, continue to hit them on the back, up to 5 times, after each blow, checking to see if the blockage has been removed.

If after 5 back blows, the blockage has not been removed, you will need to give abdominal thrusts. Many people know this as the Heimlich Manoeuvre.

Standing behind the casualty, put one arm around them, and making a fist, hold your hand against their upper stomach, just below their breastbone. Then put your other arm around the casualty, and using your hand on this arm, cup around your hand that is on their stomach. Give an inwards and upwards thrust into the casualties’ stomach. After each thrust to the stomach, check to see if the blockage has been removed. If not, continue the thrust to their stomach, up to 5 times, after each thrust, checking to see if the blockage has been removed.

If it has still not been removed, continue the cycle of up to 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts, up to 3 times and then call for an ambulance.

Continue with this process until help arrives. If the casualty becomes unconscious and not breathing, then start CPR.

If you successfully clear the blockage and:

  • You have administered abdominal thrusts
  • The casualty has a persistent cough
  • The casualty has difficulty swallowing
  • The casualty is complaining that it feels like there is something still stuck in their throat

Then seek further medical advice, as there may be some internal damage

Remember, no-one has ever been sued for administering first aid, and the worst thing you can do, is to do nothing.

If you would like some first aid training in relation to these and other conditions, please do not hesitate to contact Passion First Aid on 01452 446020, email, or go to our website,

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