National Heimlich Maneuver Day Date in the current year: June 1, 2024

National Heimlich Maneuver Day National Heimlich Maneuver Day is observed annually on June 1. It was established to educate people about a life-saving first aid technique that helps remove foreign objects from the airways to keep a person from choking.

The Heimlich maneuver, also known as abdominal thrusts, is a first aid technique where a rescuer exerts pressure on the bottom of the diaphragm of a person who is choking, standing behind them and using their hands. It is generally believed to have been invented by American thoracic surgeon Henry Heimlich.

Back slaps were originally the go-to method of removing foreign objects from the airways. However, Heimlich argued that back blows could lodge foreign objects further into the windpipe, resulting in death.

On June 1, 1974, Heimlich published an informal article titled “Pop Goes the Cafe Coronary” in the magazine Emergency Medicine, where he explained his views about the effectiveness of the abdominal thrusts maneuver in expelling foreign objects from the windpipe. About half a month later, the maneuver was reportedly used by a man to rescue a choking woman in Bellevue, Washington.

In 1975, Heimlich formally described the abdominal thrusts technique in several medical journal papers. Starting the next year, rescuers were taught the technique and instructed to perform it in case a series of back blows failed to remove the foreign object.

From 1986 to 2005, the abdominal thrusts technique was recommended as the only treatment for chocking according to the guidelines of the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. In 2005, both organizations “downgraded” the use of the abdominal thrusts, but the National Safety Council and the National Institutes of Health still name the Heimlich maneuver as the preferred treatment for choking for conscious victims over one year of age.

As we’ve already mentioned above, performing the Heimlich maneuver involves a rescuer standing behind a choking victim and using their hands to exert pressure on the bottom of the diaphragm. This results in compression of the lungs and, ideally, helps expel any object stuck in the trachea by exerting pressure on it.

Most modern protocols recommend performing the technique in several stages, applying increasingly more pressure. Before trying the Heimlich maneuver, it is recommended to encourage the victim to cough, then slap then on the back, try chest thrusts, and only resort to the Heimlich maneuver if none of this helps. Keep in mind that the technique must not be used on unconscious people.

The best way to celebrate National Heimlich Maneuver Day is to learn how to perform the maneuver because you never know when it might come in handy and save someone’s life. However, we strongly recommend against self-teaching using YouTube videos and online articles.

The Heimlich maneuver must be performed in a very specific way, so it’s best to learn it from a healthcare professional or someone else trained in performing the maneuver. Probably the best solution is to sign up for a first-aid class to learn other life-saving skills in addition to the Heimlich maneuver and get certified.

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