Guest Post: Medical Advice From Gavin

Gavin has good advice about the prevention of choking on food, using his many years of experience in the Ambulance Service in London, and New Zealand.

Hi folks, 2 things I feared most when I was in the ambulance service. One was asthma & the other similar was choking. I was the first in NZ to teach the Heimlich manoeuvre & got into trouble for it. I’m pleased to see in the video in the news story courtesy of Wellington Free, they have brought it back.

(This is not the video clip mentioned, just an illustration of the technique-Pete.)

Some advice
Never sneak up on someone while they are eating or give them a fright, such as saying HI by slapping them on the back. Eat small bites of steak and not chewy bits – no need to be polite, spit them out. And don’t forget Oranges. The meat on that is a regular choker as the acid can make you gulp. For children, eating oranges like we did at half time is safest, not peeled or Mandarins are better.

Only advanced paramedics have the equipment & can do cricothyroid punctures, certainly not in rural areas. An off duty doctor would struggle without the right gear but a midwife did it successfully in the Hawkes Bay a few years ago.

37 thoughts on “Guest Post: Medical Advice From Gavin

  1. I make sure I chew everything well and don’t eat steak or oranges just satsumas interesting though I have been seeing lots of adverts for a device if someone is chocking looks like a small toilet plunger I do wonder if it’s medically advisable to use something like that…x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t heard of that so looked it up. Something like this one, I presume?
      We never used anything like that when I was an EMT, but it seems to be mainly tartgeted for use on children. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to have one at home I suppose, as long as you read the instructions very carefully or watch a ‘how to use’ video.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. For some strange reason, I suddenly became unable to breathe after eating fries with ketchup at McD’s. It wasn’t the fries; it was the ketchup. I’d never had this situation before. I just waited patiently for it to pass, with fingers crossed for my survival, and about 40 seconds later, I began to wheeze, and eventually breathe again. I’ve had ketchup many times since without a problem. I wonder if Gavin has ever encountered anything like that before, and if she has an explanation for why it happened to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I have encountered that. Salty foods can trigger that so i think it more the fries than the tomato sauce BUT some sauces are full of preservatives with salt. Sodium makes the body hold on to fluid then to pump that extra salty fluid, the heart has to work harder – then you struggle to breathe.
      I would like to say a sip of wine would water down the body fluid but alas, wines mostly have a proportion of sodium & preservatives.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Good advice from Gavin.
    Another potential life saver, the recovery position. Many years ago I trained a group on basic 1st aid. some months later one of the group approached me in the high street, told me how someone had collapsed and appeared to have a blocked airway due to position, after placing the casualty in the recovery position breathing became easier and after ambulance arrival he heard they had made a full recovery in hospital. The look on his face while telling me this made me think all the pain and effort I spent on training was more than worthwhile for this one event. My mantra has always been you can have the best and most qualified medic arrive but if basics have not been done prior to their arrival the job is so much harder if not impossible.
    Of course fear of moving a casualty prevents some people of intervening. As long as mechanism of why the casualty is in the state they are in should help alleviate this fear.
    Apologies for such a long reply

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for this important reminder, Pete. I was trained in the Heimlich and CPR when I worked at a senior center, but I never had to use them, fortunately. These days, I try to be careful and take small bites and chew them thoroughly.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I worked at JFK I was always worried that someone might be in distress physically and that I would not know what to do or that I would do it wrong. Choking and serious asthma attacks are terrifying. The info here is vaulable. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. as an early childhood teacher we are required to take first aid/cpr/and Heimlich courses each year to be certified. I’m also on our school’s emergency response team. when my youngest daughter was little I had to Heimlich her two different times as she often got into hard candy that her older sisters had. also had to save myself once when at a happy hour with margaritas and Mexican food. I got a piece of steak caught in my throat and when I put my hands up and around my neck, it was loud and everyone thought I was celebrating. I had to reach in my throat and grab the end of the steak to pull it out. luckily it wasn’t any further down. only when I did that, did people realize what had been happening.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Good old Gavin and God bless the Paramedics. A paramedic saved my life many years ago. I choked while eating some thinly-sliced beef and I walked outside my house and the paramedic and his family just happened to be sitting on their front porch and I waved and waved at them while pointing at my throat and he came over and gave me that maneuver (Hime-Lick) (Can’t spell it right now) and it worked and I am here. Good advice overall and thank you for it.

    Liked by 2 people

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