Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How to Save a Choking Victim – When You Can't Use the Heimlich Maneuver

The LifeVac Choking Aid Solution

choking victim

Have you ever been with someone while they were choking on a piece of food? Or have you yourself ever had something so stuck in your throat that you couldn't take a breath? You try to cough, hoping to clear your windpipe, but you can't cough, or can't cough enough to clear it. At first, you're startled, then frightened, then frantic. You have no voice and must scream, "Help me!" – yet you cannot utter a sound.

You wave your arms to get someone's attention and make the universal sign for choking by holding one or both of your hands in front of your throat.

You hope that someone will come up behind you and use the Heimlich Maneuver® so that you can finally breathe again...

But – if you are wheelchair bound because of Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, or some other reason, the Heimlich Maneuver® can be difficult or impossible to successfully perform when you are choking.

This is where the new LifeVac Choking Aid may be able to come to the rescue.

What is the LifeVac Choking Aid?

LifeVac Choking Aid

The LifeVac Choking Aid is an affordable, easy-to-use suction apparatus to help remove a foreign substance blocking the airway of a choking victim when standard choking protocols cannot be used or have been unsuccessful.

In those situations, the LifeVac Choking Aid can provide peace of mind to parents and caregivers, giving them a life-saving choking solution for a patient or loved one for whom the Heimlich Maneuver® is not an option.

It is ideal for high-risk potential choking victims: children (over 40 lb.); the elderly; those with dementia; the wheelchair-bound; those with Neurological Conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Muscular Dystrophy (MD), Cerebral Palsy (CP), Amyotrophic Laterals Sclerosis (ALS) aka "Lou Gehrig's disease," Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, etc.

How does the LifeVac Choking Aid work?

When someone is choking, LifeVac recommends that standard choking protocol be followed. These are the steps:

1) Perform the Heimlich Maneuver® – if possible, but if not possible (e.g., you can’t get your arms around the victim, due to obesity, pregnancy, or the choking victim is wheelchair bound) or if unsuccessful, then proceed to Step 2.

2) Use a back slap to attempt to dislodge the obstruction – and if unsuccessful, then proceed to Step 3.

3) Use the LifeVac Choking Aid to remove the obstruction in the choking victim's airway.

LifeVac recommends certified training in BLS (Basic Life Support) Protocol, including choking protocol and CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). Follow all BLS Protocols first and call 911. If all BLS Protocols are unsuccessful or cannot be used, proceed using the LifeVac Choking Aid, exactly following all instructions for use (including practicing prior to use).


For those who may be unfamiliar with Step 1, which is the Heimlich Maneuver®:

Heimlich Maneuver Step 1

Choking Victim & Heimlich Maneuver® Image Credit: henryheimlich.com

"Situation: A choking victim can’t speak or breathe and needs your help immediately. Follow these steps to help a choking victim:

1) From behind, wrap your arms around victim’s waist.

2) Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against victim’s upper abdomen, below the ribcage, and just above the navel.

3) Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into victim’s abdomen with a quick, upward pressure. Do not squeeze the ribcage; confine the force of the thrust to your hands.

4) Repeat until object is expelled."

Excerpted from "How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver®" on a standing choking victim when rescuer’s arms can reach around the choking victim.


The Heimlich Maneuver® works on Pascal's Principle to push the foreign object out of the airway. By applying force to the choking victim's abdomen, there is an increase in internal pressure that is transmitted to their throat to dislodge the food they were choking on – in much the same way that squeezing a tube of toothpaste at the bottom will cause the toothpaste to squirt out the top (that's right, there's no need to squeeze it in the middle – unless you just want to annoy your spouse!).

The LifeVac Choking Aid, with its unique push-pull design, works the opposite way of the Heimlich Maneuver®. The LifeVac device uses suction to pull, rather than push, to dislodge the obstruction causing the choking. The LifeVac's one-way valve prevents pushing the food or object downward, using suction to clear the airway of the choking victim.

The LifeVac Choking Aid is FDA Registered as a Class II medical device and does not require a prescription. It has become an additional, new lifesaving tool for EMT and First Responders, such as the Police and Fire Department, as well as for home use.

LifeVac founder and CEO Arthur Lih

Pictured: Ray Cooney, Firefighter and host of Firehouse Kitchen with Arthur Lih, Founder and CEO of LifeVac.

LifeVac's Founder and CEO, Arthur Lih, visited MaxiAids recently to demonstrate the LifeVac Choking Aid to our Sales and Customer Service Departments and answer our questions.


LifeVac Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):


Q: Is choking a rare occurrence?

A: Unfortunately not. Research shows that choking is a leading cause of death in children and a leading cause of accidental deaths in the elderly over the age of 65. According to the National Safety Council, in 2015, over 5,000 people died from choking – more than half were older than 74. And over 100 million Americans have no defense against aspiration emergencies due to pregnancy, disability, obesity, or just being alone.


Q: Why not just call 911 when someone is choking?

A: When there's an emergency, calling 911 is always a good idea – but the average emergency response time ranges from 7 to 11 minutes. However, brain cells begin to die after one minute without oxygen. Brain damage and eventually brain death is the inevitable outcome if oxygen deprivation is allowed to continue beyond five minutes.


Q: Is the LifeVac Choking Aid intended to replace the Heimlich Maneuver®?

A: LifeVac is not intended to replace any of the standard choking protocols. The LifeVac Choking Aid is intended to be an additional tool when the Heimlich Maneuver® is impossible to use or has been unsuccessful in clearing the choking victim's airway.


Q: If the Heimlich Maneuver® doesn't work, then how can the LifeVac Choking Aid possibly work?

A: The negative (suction) pressure generated by the force of the LifeVac is approximately 3 times greater than the highest recorded abdominal thrusts (which is used in the Heimlich Maneuver®). The LifeVac generates over 300 mmHg of suction. However, the duration of suction is minimal – so the LifeVac Choking Aid is safe as well as effective.


Q: Has the LifeVac been tested and published in any medical journals?

A: The American Journal of Emergency Medicine published an independent study documenting the LifeVac Choking Aid's effectiveness in removing an obstruction from a blocked airway.


Q: Can the LifeVac make the choking situation worse by pushing the obstruction farther down?

A: No, because the LifeVac has a patented design with a one-way valve to vent the air outside the face mask rather than into it when pushed down. This creates a one-way suction to dislodge the obstruction.


Q: Is there any chance that using the LifeVac might break the choking victim's ribs like some other first aid procedures may?

A: No. The LifeVac does not require the use of any external force on the abdomen or anywhere else near the rib cage.


Q: Will using the LifeVac damage the choking victim's lungs?

A: No. The pressure created by the LifeVac is approximately equal to a really good cough.


Q: If necessary, can I use the LifeVac on myself?

A: Yes.


Q: Will the LifeVac Choking Aid work on an adult with a moustache and/or beard?

A: Yes.


Q: Is the LifeVac Choking Aid difficult to use?

A: The LifeVac is not difficult to use but practice is recommended prior to using it. It comes with a Test Mask for practicing the procedure, as well as both an Adult Mask and a Pediatric (40 lb. and up) Children's Mask.

LifeVac Choking Aid Procedure Graphic

Q: How many choking incidents can the LifeVac be used for?

A: For the utmost in safety and reliability, it is best to use the LifeVac Choking Aid device once per choking incident and then replacing the unit.


Q: Has the LifeVac Choking Aid actually saved any lives?

A: Yes, in fact the first life the LifeVac saved was in 2016. The woman, a resident at a nursing care home in Wales, was choking on her lunch. An attendant cleared the woman's airway with one press-and-pull of the LifeVac. Luckily for that woman, the facility had ordered the LifeVac Choking Aid after another resident had choked to death earlier that year – and just received the device two days earlier.


Q: What's LifeVac's best feature?

A: For high-risk choking victims and those who care for them, the LifeVac Choking Aid is a peace-of-mind, in-case-of-emergency-break-glass Plan B – a fallback option when all else fails or when there is no other option – and much more than just a Hail Mary play because it has been proven to work.


MaxiAids has been serving the deaf, the hard of hearing, the blind, those with low vision, as well as seniors, and the disabled for the past 30 years as a leader in providing assistive devices for independent living.

Click here to order the LifeVac Choking Aid.


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