School Nurse Emergency Highlight - Choking

Teachers, staff and principals must be familiar with the school’s First Aid procedures. Choking in students most commonly occurs because of food blocking the airway. Students are more likely to choke if they are moving whilst they are eating, especially if they are running or playing. An unsupervised student has more chance of choking than a supervised student.

Student First Aid - School Nurse Emergency Highlight - Choking


  1. Hit student’s back firmly between shoulder blades, in slightly upward motion up to 5 times to dislodge object. Check between each blow if object has been dislodged.
  2. If object is still stuck, brace student against wall and give up to 5 quick chest thrusts to dislodge object. Check if object has been dislodged.
  3. Call 000 if student is unable to talk, cry or breathe. Reassure student while waiting for ambulance.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I administer chest thrusts? Place the student, sitting or standing, against a firm surface like a wall or door. Put the palm of your hand in the middle of their chest at the bottom of their rib cage and push down firmly, quickly. This creates a strong vibration and pressure in their airway, which is often enough to dislodge the blockage. Dislodging the object allows the student to breathe again.

Do I treat a young student who is choking the same as an older student? Yes, just don’t push down as hard. A combination of 5 back blows followed by 5 chest thrusts provides an effective way to clear the airway obstruction. Do not hang a child upside down by their feet to dislodge the object. This is not effective and may cause further injury.

How do I treat a baby who is choking? For infants under 1 year old, keep their head lower than the chest, supporting their head and neck by draping them over your knee. Then give 5 gentle but firm back blows between the shoulder blades and 5 gentle but firm chest thrusts to the centre of the chest just below the nipple line. Repeat until the object is forced out or the infant can be heard to cry.

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