Prompt action during an emergency could mean the difference between life and death. The following article describes how to assess a victims’ airway and breathing.
CHECK THE RESPONSE
If faced with a person who appears to be unresponsive, check the response by gently shaking the shoulders and asking loudly, “Are you all right?” Speak loudly and clearly and squeeze gently because there may be a neck injury.
OPEN THE AIRWAY
1. Place one hand on the forehead and gently tilt the head back. Open the victim’s mouth and remove any obvious obstructions, including dislodged dentures, but leave well-fitting dentures in place.
2. Place the fingertips of the other hand under the point of the victims’ chin and lift the chin. If injury to the neck is suspected, handle the head very gently and try to avoid tilting the head.
IF THERE IS NO RESPONSE
Shout for help. If possible, leave the victim in the position in which you found him and open the airway. When it is not possible to carry out an assessment of the victim in the position found, turn the person onto his back and open the airway.
Apply the same techniques for a child as for an adult. For a baby, use only one finger under the chin and be very careful not to over-extend the neck when tilting the head back.
CHECK FOR BREATHING
Keep the airway open and look, listen, and feel for breathing for no more than 10 seconds.
• Look for the chest movement.
• Listen for sounds of breathing.
• Feel the breath on your cheek
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF A NON-BREATHING CASUALTY
• Unconsciousness, stillness.
• Pale skin with possible blue lips.
• No movement of the chest.
• No feeling or sound of breathing.
Assessing a baby or toddler
If the victim is a toddler or a baby, it is important to handle them with care. Roll the baby gently onto its back with one hand, making sure you cradle the head with the other.
To open the airway, place only one finger under
the chin and tilt the head back slowly. Do not tip
the head back too far as this may cause damage to
the neck. Once you are sure the airway is clear,
check for breathing for no more than 10 seconds.
OPENING AIRWAY AND CHECKING BREATHING
• Check to see if the victim is conscious.
• Open the airway by gently lifting the chin, checking in the mouth, and tilting the head.
• Check breathing for 10 seconds.
• Sweep blindly in the mouth for obstructions.