Clinical scenario: A patient with a possible airway obstruction

You are dispatched to a restaurant for a report of a man choking


Engine 21, respond Priority 1 to 226 South Main St. at the Sunrise Café. Two separate callers report a man choking.

You walk into the restaurant and bystanders direct you to a booth in the corner. Your patient is sitting on the floor propped up against the bench with several people standing around.

A woman introduces herself as an off-duty nurse and states that the man was eating alone and abruptly stood up. Another bystander asked if he was choking and then performed the Heimlich maneuver. The patient’s eyes are open and he tracks you as you kneel next to him.

You walk into the restaurant and bystanders direct you to a booth in the corner. (Photo/Pixabay)
You walk into the restaurant and bystanders direct you to a booth in the corner. (Photo/Pixabay)

You introduce yourself and ask the patient’s name. “Matthew,” he responds. When asked what happened, Matthew is able to explain the incident and does not appear to be in any distress, other than a slight cough.

As you move through the remainder of your primary assessment, think about the following questions:

  • What is your initial impression of Matthew’s presentation?
  • How can the rest of your crew assist at this time?
  • What are the next steps of your primary assessment?

Post your answers in the comments and view the solution for this scenario.

About the author

An EMS practitioner for nearly 15 years, Patrick Lickiss is currently located in Grand Rapids, MI. He is interested in education and research and hopes to further the expansion of evidence-based practice in EMS. He is also an avid homebrewer and runner.

  1. Tags
  2. Airway Management
  3. Choking
  4. EMS Education
  5. EMS Training
  6. Patient Assessment
  7. Patient Care
  8. Patient Handling
  9. Scenario

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