If someone was choking, could you save them?

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Jamey Boyum - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email | Twitter

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - On September 8th we shared how an East Texas dispatcher saved a man's life. An Oklahoma man was in the Titus County Sheriff's Department and began choking on a piece of hard candy. A fast thinking dispatcher came to his aid and saved his life by doing the Heimlich Maneuver. But, if you needed to save someone's life, would you know how to do it?

Let's say you are eating lunch on a quick break. You are in a hurry and literally inhale your food. It has happened to a lot of us, or maybe you have seen it happen. How do you know it is time for the Heimlich?

"One of the universal signs someone is having an airway obstruction is the inability to speak," said Michael Miller, an East Texas Medical Center paramedic. "People will grab their throat because they can't breathe. The Heimlich Maneuver is usually indicated in that circumstance…so, him in a seated position I got behind him with one fist. Cup your other hand. Go right below the ribcage and go inward and upward with one motion. Do that rapidly until you either expel the object or make him breathe. Usually it's pretty instant. When you come inward and upward you're pushing the stomach up pushing everything up - air inside the lungs and you're forcing that object where it blocked to come out."

But what if the victim has passed out?

"If they're lying on the floor you could possibly use the palm of your hand and intertwine both of your hands and go inward and upward that way. You want to be more careful with a child than with an adult and not use as much force," he explained.

What if no one is around when it happens to you?

"You could position yourself against something - a table, a desk - something that's waist high and then force yourself on that object as hard as you can to try to get the object loose that way," Miller said.

Miller points out there is always some air in the lungs so if you do it right, it should work every time. Remember to keep a firm grip on the victim since they can lose consciousness from lack of oxygen. If you have to perform it on yourself, try to use a wood-backed chair.

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