• Choking? Pass the forceps…

    We’re often asked what a paramedic would do when arriving on the scene of a choking emergency. When someone begins to choke they will become unresponsive very quickly, and is likely to be the case on arrival.

    If unresponsive, and a Foreign Body Airway Obstruction (FBAO) / choking is identified then standard practice is to deploy forceps in an attempt to clear the airway.

    Using a Larangyscope the airway is opened to allow the use of Magill forceps, the history of which goes back to World War I and which were originally developed to prevent overdoses of anaesthetic.

    A need for equipment to insert items such as tubes into patient’s throats was required and with their curved handle and ease of operation.

    Magill forceps soon became useful for removing objects from the airways as well as inserting them. However are unsure how effective they are on soft foods such as porridge or mashed potato.

    Placing small balls of cotton wool soaked an anaesthetic rather than placing a soaked rag was preferred and was subsequently implemented on the battlefield and elsewhere.