22nd March 2019 Friday Resus Ready First Aid Trivia

Do you clear an airway with your fingers?

The scenario:

You have just successfully finished your HLTAID001 Provide Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation course with Resus Ready in Melbourne and you are walking home from class.

As you cross the road you find a person lying on the footpath, they are unconscious and not breathing normally.  You call 000 and an ambulance is on the way.  You then check their airway and see an object lodged right in the back of their throat.  What should you do?


Option 1: Open their mouth wide, try and use two fingers to reach in and remove the object


Option 2: Commence CPR


Results from the facebook poll are:

  • Option 1 – Reach in and remove 68% 68%
  • Option 2 – Commence CPR 32% 32%

Wow, the results on the poll surprised me and the answer will more than likely surprise you.

If you answered Option 2 – Commence CPR then you would be correct!  I can already hear the outcrys of “but you need to have a clear airway!” and “why check the airway if we aren’t going to do anything about it!” There is method to the madness and I’ll explain why.  But before I do, I would like to congratulate my previous students who ALL got the answer right!  Well done my Padawans you are well on the journey to becoming Jedi Masters of First Aid!  Ok back to the airway issue..


The scenario reads that you find a stranger on a footpath with something lodged in the back of their throat.  Yes it is true that removing the object will open the airway and allow air to go in and out.  However, the object is lodged in the back of the throat, it is not easily accessible and there are many reasons not to put your fingers in a strangers mouth.

Reasons not to put your fingers in a strangers mouth:

1. They could wake up and reflexively bite down on your fingers, causing pain and injury to youself

2. Pushing your fingers into the back of the throat can cause a gag reflex which could make the casualty vomit which could cause fluid to travel into the airway, causing more issues.

3. Trying to remove the object with your fingers could push it further into the airway


Some may ask why bother checking an airway if we aren’t going to clear it.  The answer is that if the object can be easily removed (ie. its at the front of the mouth or sticking out of the mouth) then you should remove it.  The operative word here is EASILY removed.  If you are reaching in further than the teeth then you are putting yourself and the casualty at risk.

The other reason to check the airway is to notify the ambulance when it arrives.  The ambulance officers have specialised equipment (like the one shown in the picture) that can safely reach into the back of the throat to remove objects, they also have specialised equipment to keep an airway open. 

Reporting to emergency services that their is something in the casualties airway ensures that the ambulance officers are already prepared with the right equipment as soon as they arrive on the scene and in these sorts of scenarios every second counts.



Is there any point in performing CPR if we don’t have an open airway?  Yes there is!

In this scenario we are unsure of when the casualty collapsed but performing CPR helps to circulate the blood around the body and use whatever oxygen was in the lungs at time of collapse to help oxygenate the vital organs, it may not be much but it is better than nothing.  


I would like to congratulate again all my past students for getting this answer correct.  So proud of you all.  If you would like to have the confidence of knowing what to do in an emergency then I recommend getting some friends together and booking an in home CPR/First Aid session with me.

Classes are fun and interactive and you leave with the confidence that you know what to do in an emergency.  And the best part is, that you don’t need any prior experience.  Contact me or use the book a course button below.



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Thank you to everyone who voted, if you would like to join in the next trivia poll,  like and follow www.facebook.com/resusready  


Have a question related to this weeks trivia, write it in the comments of the quiz post.

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