Section Il. REMOVING AN OBSTRUCTION FROM A PERSON'S AIRWAY
This material is placed in a separate section because it will seldom be used
on the battlefield. Although the manual thrusts may be used to remove
airway blockage in an unconscious casualty, they are normally used in a
a. An upper airway obstruction (blockage) occurs when an object enters a
person's trachea (windpipe) and obstructs airflow. The blockage can be caused by
food, blood clots or loose teeth resulting from a head injury, vomitus (regurgitated
stomach contents) which has been inhaled, or objects such as buttons. The blockage
must be expelled or removed and breathing restored. A blockage that stops breathing
or greatly reduces the amount of air that can be inhaled and exhaled can quickly lead to
unconsciousness and death.
b. A person with an airway obstruction will automatically begin to cough or at
least try to cough. In addition, he will probably clutch his throat. This clutching action is
natural, but it has also been adopted as the universal distress signal for choking figure
3-12). This sign alerts other people that the problem is an airway obstruction rather
than another problem such as a heart attack.
Figure 3-12. Universal distress signal for choking
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