(CNN) – When minutes count, would you know what to do if someone is choking?
The Heimlich Maneuver was made famous by doctor Henry Heimlich more than forty years ago. It is one of several first aid options used when someone is choking. In the grand scheme of medical procedures, this one is incredibly safe.
Dr. Kyle staller is a gastroenterologist at Boston’s Massachusetts general hospital. He says it’s important to know the Heimlich Maneuver because in a choking situation, minutes count. We know that when someone’s deprived of oxygen for four minutes brain damage can start to occur. You want to locate their navel and make a fist and put it right above the navel.
Susan Mastandrea teaches the procedure to Y.M.C.A. lifeguards. “You want to put the other hand on top of that fist and you want to do strong inward and upward thrusts” said, Mastandrea.
Doctor Staller recommends five to ten thrusts at a time. Treating each one as an independent effort to clear the airway. Basically you’re taking air that is in their lungs and forcing it to be expelled at a high rate of speed and high pressure.
It’s important to use airway clearing procedures like the Heimlich, only when needed.