A number of suction-based airway clearance devices for the treatment of choking are available in Ireland. The Emergency Medicine Programme and the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine does not currently support their use due to the lack of research on the safety or effectiveness of these devices. Similar to the Resusitation Council in the UK, we have concerns that the use of these devices could delay established treatments for choking.
Parents with young children are advised to familiarise themselves with first aid techniques and follow the HSE guidelines on choking for babies under 1 and children aged 1 year or older. These steps are easy to learn and can be initiated promptly and effectively without the requirement for equipment.
For adults, if the airway is only partly blocked, the person will usually be able to speak, cry, cough or breathe. Where choking is severe back blows and abdominal thrusts may be needed.
Appropriately trained healthcare professionals use advanced techniques such as suction or laryngoscopy and forceps for the removal of foreign body airway obstructions.