The Heimlich maneuver is a first aid technique that is performed to save a life of a choking individual. Aside from this maneuver, another first aid technique that can be performed during a choking emergency is the finger probe maneuver.
Always bear in mind that choking can occur once an individual tries to swallow food that is too large to pass through the esophagus or when accidentally drawing food into the air passages that leads to the lungs. If any of these instances occur, it will lead to choking and the individual will have difficulty breathing and could not speak. The head of the individual is thrown back while the face becomes bluish-red in color with the eyes protruding.
What to do in a choking emergency
In a choking emergency, it is vital to determine if the victim is passing any air in and out of his/her lungs. If the air passages are obstructed partially, some air movement continues through the narrowed windpipe and there is time to call for emergency assistance before the individual will collapse. In case the air passages are completely closed, the individual will soon collapse and die within minutes due to lack of air unless an emergency action is taken. This is where the finger probe maneuver will come in handy.
What is the finger probe maneuver?
The finger probe maneuver is the ideal first aid maneuver in a choking situation in which a lump of food or firm object is lodged in the throat. With this first aid technique, your initial move is to open the mouth widely and then grasp the tip of his/her tongue through the fold of a handkerchief and then pull the tongue forward.
The next step is to pass the forefinger of your other hand over the tongue of the individual and along the side of the throat far enough to reach the edge of the food or object causing the obstruction. Make sure that you will take care not to push the forefinger into the midline of the individual’s throat since it will push the obstructing object deeper into the air passages.
The sweeping motion of the finger will bring the obstructing food or object forward into the mouth. This is the last step in a successful finger probe maneuver. Even if the individual is breathing normally again, it is best to take him/her to a doctor to determine whether the obstructing object or food has been taken out completely. It is vital for the doctor to figure out if there are any damages to the tissues when the finger probe maneuver was performed in order to restore his/her normal breathing.
As part of a first aid and CPR course, this technique is also taught along with the Heimlich maneuver that is very useful on choking individuals.