The best way to save a choking victim is no longer 'the Heimlich'

Many people believe the “Heimlich maneuver” is the only viable option to help save a choking victim. Turns out, that’s not really the case. Following is a transcript of the video.

What’s the right way to save a choking victim’s life? It turns out, the Heimlich maneuver is not the only approach – and it may not even be the best one.

Repeated blows to the back could be equally useful in a dangerous situation. You might be thinking that back blows will only lodge the food deeper into a person’s trachea. But this is a myth perpetuated by Dr. Henry Heimlich.

According to reports from Dr. Heimlich’s youngest son, Peter Heimlich, the founder of the Heimlich maneuver spent years trying to discredit back blows, publicly denouncing them as “death blows.”

He even funded a study in the ’80s that showed back blows could do more harm to a choking victim than good. But in truth, there is no valid scientific evidence to prove that back blows are any better, or worse, than the Heimlich maneuver. Needless to say, Dr. Heimlich’s questionable actions led the American Red Cross to make a big change to its first-aid protocols in 2006.

Up to then, the Red Cross had — for 20 years — only recommended the Heimlich for choking victims.

But in 2006, it made two big changes:

First, it removed “Heimlich” from the name “Heimlich maneuver” and relabeled the method as “abdominal thrusts.”

Second, it changed its protocols so that the recommended way to save a choking victim’s life is now a 2-step process:

Step 1: Administer 5 blows to the back by hitting the palm of your hand against the area between the shoulder blades.

If Step 1 does not fix the problem, move on to Step 2:

Perform 5 abdominal thrusts by first placing your fist around someone’s stomach with your thumb against the middle of the abdomen — above the naval. Then, wrap your other hand around the fist and thrust upward.

If the food is still stuck, repeat the process starting with Step 1.

If the victim falls unconscious, start performing chest compressions with rescue breaths.

First, lift the chin and tilt the head to open the airway. Pinch the nose shut. Make a complete seal over the person’s mouth and blow air for about 1 second. Perform 30 chest compressions, pushing hard and fast in the middle of the chest. Look for and remove objects in the airway.

If breaths don’t make the chest rise, repeat the process.

You should also consider calling 911, and do so immediately if the person passes out from lack of oxygen.

Time is of the essence. Act fast, and you may just save a life.

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Author Since: Sep 20, 2018

  1. OK, I saved my middle son from choking on a hot dog by doing the Heimlich when he was 9, so I'll just go with that! When I was in the Air Force, one of my extra duties was to teach my entire squadron self-aid and buddy care (treating for shock, setting broken bones, fireman's carry, Heimlich, etc.). I did this every month for 3 years. When my son began to choke (he really did put his hands criss cross on his throat like they trained us). Even though it was 14 years since I'd taught the Heimlich, I grabbed my son, spun him around, gave 2 thrusts, and it was out. Training is everything. If you have young kids especially, it's so important to learn and practice.

  2. I was just choking on acid reflex it was like a little bit of burning liquid throw up and it got in my air way and I started choking but I barley breath it was like short very weezy could barley breath gasps and I almost passed out. Me and my wife were both terrified but I mamaged to start breathing again but I'm just worried cause my wife didn't know what to do so I just want to take any information in case this happens again it wasn't food I was choking on it was the acid so please any tips will be great I'm scared shitless of it happening again

  3. Kids are always joking around about this and don't take it so seriously. But in reality, choking is scary. Even it isn't you. So don't mess around in health class kids, this could save someone's life.

  4. Back blows work but are also very dangerous to the spine, and other organs, and it’s actually possible that back blows lodge food farther because of how your throat is shape

  5. This is what happened today to me I was playing do not spit out the water when you're laughing I my friend was like oh hey oh get your butt butt off of me and I laughed I start coughing and stuff and I cannot believe

  6. I remember when I was little I choked on a peice of hot dog. I almost stopped breathing it was the scariest thing ever. Luckily my younger brother knew what to do and saved my life.

  7. Why would you perform CPR if after the 1st breath the chest didn't rise? No air is getting in or going out. Also did you call for emergency medical help? I would perform an emergency trach then back to CPR.

  8. Wait – if someone has something blocking their airway, what good is trying to blow air into their lungs? Don't we already know that trying to get air in their lungs is futile if their airway is blocked?

  9. If you save someones life using only the heimlich maneuver, does he/she tell you that you saved him/her due the wrong protocol? I need to tell this to my wife whom i just saved yesterday using the heimlich maneuver…i forgot to leave the heimlich part away. So the next time she intends to choke off the piece of meat i start to slap her at the backbone meanwhile she dies.

  10. ive saved 3 adult chokers lives,(perhaps my babbies too a few times that got a little scary.
    THANK YOU LORD I have been able to apply aid properly and save lives. Heres my take…. this video is usefull, however, the pace that "shit happens" is frantic and not as sif you can casualy apply aid as the video almost implies. when someone starts choking, you first have to get to them and get yourself in position to actually be able to help them. I have seen tables at restuaraunt wiped clean of everything as a choker lost control and begged for my help.(scary as can be). so you better get to them quick and effiently w/o any delay or emotional stalling delay of any sort.
    You better be ready to hit their back hard and effectively . You gotta get behind them quickly and take control of their body from behind and get the abdominal thrusts started ASAP. DONT sit there asking for responses, just get to work on the choker. Be ready to have the first Heimlick pump NOT work, the 2nd hard pull(not casual) WILL BE THE SAVE THEIR LIFE CHANCE! twice my 2nd tug saved the day. and let me tell you, that time stands still with fear in you as you try to save a choker and fail on the first Hylick pulls. the time from pull 1 to pull 2 has so many hopefull thoughts and pressure on YOU to save a life. It all on YOU now. dont look for other people to help if you are aware of choking Please dont be passive, you will need all your strength and good timing on the abdominal thrusts tugging , especially if the person choking is a big man. you gotta really get your arms around the choker and "dig in " physically when you start Heimlick manuever.., watch out for rib breaking accidentally. get your fist hand pushing the none bones upward just UNDER the ribs. calling 911 better be fast if at all bc a choker is someone that need help ASAP no seconds to spare. GOD Bles and i hope no more choking saves will be needed by my presence as i have successfully saved 3. The 3rd was the hardest as I had to perform 8 thrusts to abdominal, broke a rib of choker, too. if i stopped at five my wife would be dead. i broke her rib and thank God she survived. Cut your steak well and hope this doesnt happen to you. 2 of the 3 were women eating steak big bites fats bc they were hungry. the other wa a large man eating a chicken sandwich.. two of 3 took 2 abdomial pulls aka Hymlick, the 3rd took 8 tugs and was the scariest thing i ever had to do. YOU WILL HAVE TO SAVE THE PEOPLE, not 911! Be strong and focus! this aint an easy thing and you have to create a "YANK" when you perform the abdomial thrusting. remember, you onlu have so many yanks bc each yank loses precious air so make it count when you have to smack a back andbe very quick to Hymlick. God speed.