How to respond to a choking adult or child

If this is an emergency, please call 000 immediately.

What is choking?

If the patient becomes blue, limp or unconscious, follow DRSABCD and call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

Choking occurs when something gets stuck in, and blocks, a person's throat or windpipe.

This guide is regularly updated and aligns with the current edition of Australian First Aid (4th edition, 7/2011)

Signs and Symptoms

 

      • Clutching the throat
      • Coughing, wheezing, gagging
      • Difficulty in breathing, speaking or swallowing
      • Making a whistling or ‘crowing’ noise, or no sound at all
      • Blue lips, face, earlobes, fingernails
      • Loss of consciousness

What to do

Encourage the patient to relax. Ask the patient to cough to remove the object.

  

If coughing does not remove the blockage, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

 

Bend the patient well forward and give up to 5 sharp blows on the back between the shoulder blades with the heel of one hand.

Check if the blockage has been removed after each blow.

 

If the blockage has not cleared after 5 back blows, give up to 5 chest thrusts.

 

Give chest thrusts by placing one hand in the middle of the patient’s back for support and the heel of the other on the lower half of the sternum. Thrusts should be slower and sharper than CPR compressions.

Check if the blockage has been removed after each thrust.

 

If the blockage has not cleared after 5 thrusts, continue alternating 5 back blows with 5 chest thrusts until medical aid arrives.

If the patient becomes blue, limp or unconscious, follow DRSABCD and call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

Resources

Choking fact sheet

Printable CPR Wallet Card

Related advice

Choking Infant

Choking occurs when something gets stuck in, and blocks, a person's throat or windpipe. Learn how to respond to a choking infant (under 1 year).


DRSABCD Action Plan

The DRSABCD Action Plan is the first step when providing first aid. Use this to assess the immediate situation.



How to perform CPR on an adult

If an adult is unresponsive and not breathing normally, you need to call 000 for emergency help and start CPR straight away. Learn what to do.

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