How to Help a Colleague Who is Choking

How to Help a Colleague Who is Choking

There you are, sitting with your buddy in the cafeteria at work. It’s only noon, and you’ve already worked up an appetite. But at least you can kick back for a little bit and enjoy your sandwich. And so you do.

Until... Oh! Wait. Your friend is choking. He’s grabbing at his throat frantically, gasping for air.

What do you do?

...Well, fortunately you read this article just minutes before. This is what we covered.

The first thing you should take notice of is how severe is the choking. And then act accordingly...


I. Helping the Mild Chokers

How do you know if it’s mild? The person should still be able to breath, speak, and cough in spite of a partly blocked airway. The good thing is that even if the person is alone when they’re choking, assuming it’s mild, they should be able to save themselves. By self-clearing the blockage.

If you’re present, you can still help the victim by doing the following.

1. Get messy. Stick to your fingers into the person’s mouth to remove any visible blockage. Then pull!

2. Be the sideline coach. Support them by asking them to keep coughing.

3. Stay ready just in case the airway gets fully clogged or the choking worsens.

II. Helping the Severe Chokers.

If the person can’t utter a word, breath, cough, or even shed some tears... they’re probably severely choking. If that’s the case, you need to step in immediately. Or they’ll lose consciousness.

This is what you can do...

Depending on your strong side, stand to the opposite side of the person. Then support the chest with one hand. Lean the person forward. This way, the obstructing object will come out of their mouth, rather than sinking further. Then, with the heel of your hand, give five blows between the person’s shoulder blades. Check if the blockage has cleared after every blow.

If that isn’t helping, it’s time to call for backup. Have someone send for an ambulance. Continue delivering the sharp blows until they’ve arrived. If the person’s breathing hasn’t improved, if you’re qualified to, perform CPR.

Another life saving alternative you can go with is the Heimlich maneuver.

Don’t know how? It’s simple.

Get behind the victim. Then wrap your arms around their waist and bend the person forward.
 Place a clenched fist just above their belly button. Put the other hand on top, then pull into their stomach with several hard upward movements--a maximum of 5 times. Keep checking for the block. If it still hasn’t cleared, then repeat until it is.

After Effects

Even though the airway is clear, there could be lingering effects from any remaining particles of the object which caused the choking. If the victim displays any of the following: difficulty swallowing, coughing, and sensation of having something jammed in their throat, then they should seek a professional immediately.

 So don’t just stand there and watch your buddy get blue in the face.

Step in there and do something.

You’re ready, young grasshopper.