First-aid : Choking and Heart Attack


Choking occurs when an object becomes stuck in the throat or the windpipe and blocks air from flowing into the lungs. In some cases the airflow is completely blocked, in other cases, some amount of air can pass to the lungs. Not enough oxygen is delivered to the body, resulting in oxygen deprivation.

Mild Choking

In case of mild choking encourage the person to cough and clear their throats out themselves. If the airway is only partly blocked, the person will usually be able to speak, cry, cough or breathe.

To help with mild choking in an adult or child over one-year-old:

  • Encourage them to keep coughing to try to clear the blockage.
  • Ask them to try to spit out the object if it’s in their mouth.
  • Don’t put your fingers in their mouths to help them as they may bite you accidentally.
  • If coughing doesn’t work, start back blows.

Severe Choking 

Where choking is severe, the person would be unable to speak, cry, cough or breathe. Without proper help and action, they’ll eventually become unconscious.

To carry out a back blow on an adult or child over one-year-old:

  • Stand behind them and slightly to one side. Support their chest with one hand. Lean them forward so the object blocking their airway will come out of their mouth, rather than moving further down.
  • Give up to five sharp blows between their shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. The heel is between the palm of your hand and your wrist.
  • Check if the blockage has cleared.
  • If not, give up to five abdominal thrusts.

How to perform abdominal thrusts

  • Stand behind the person who’s choking.
  • Place your arms around their waist and bend them forward. 
  • Clench one fist and place it right above their belly button.
  • Put the other hand on top of your fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards.
  • Repeat this movement up to five times.

If the person’s airway is still blocked after trying back blows and abdominal thrusts, get help immediately. Call your emergency number and continue with the cycles of five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until help arrives.

Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when blood flow decreases or stops to a part of the heart, causing damage to the heart muscle. The most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort which may travel into the shoulder, arm, back, neck or jaw. Often it occurs in the center or left side of the chest and lasts for more than a few minutes.

What to do if you or someone else may be having a heart attack

  • Have the person sit down, rest, and try to keep calm.
  • Loosen any tight clothing.
  • Ask if the person takes any chest pain medicine, such as nitroglycerin, for a known heart condition, and help them take it.
  • If the pain does not go away promptly with rest or within 3 minutes of taking nitroglycerin, call for emergency medical help.
  • If the person is unconscious and unresponsive, call your local emergency number), then begin CPR.
  • If an infant or child is unconscious and unresponsive, perform one minute of CPR, then call your emergency number.

Things to avoid when helping a person having a heart attack

  • Leave the person alone except to call for help, if necessary.
  • Allow the person to deny the symptoms and convince you not to call for emergency help.
  • Wait to see if the symptoms go away.
  • Give the person anything by mouth unless a heart medicine (such as nitroglycerin) has been prescribed.

Call your local emergency number immediately if the person is not responding to you, isn’t breathing or has sudden chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack

Awareness is key to preventing the loss of lives. Knowledge of administering proper first aid empowers one to save lives. Now you would definitely be able to help those affected by choking or heart attack.