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Postgrad Med. 1988 Aug;84(2):62-7, 71-3.

Using the Heimlich maneuver to save near-drowning victims.

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Xavier University, Cincinnati.


Flooding of the lungs occurs routinely in drowning victims. The cause of death in 90% of them is hypoxemia caused by water in the lungs. Mouth-to-mouth ventilation is ineffective until the water is removed. The Heimlich maneuver expels aspirated water, vomitus, debris, and other foreign matter. In treating near-drowning victims, place the victim in the supine position with head turned to the side and perform the Heimlich maneuver to evacuate water from the lungs, unless you know water is not in the respiratory tract. The Heimlich maneuver is a form of artificial respiration. It elevates the diaphragm, increasing intrathoracic pressure and compressing the lungs, and should be performed intermittently until all water is expelled. It is an especially useful technique because fear of contagion sometimes deters rescuers from using mouth-to-mouth ventilation . Further treatment has not been necessary in most instances. If the victim does not recover after water ceases to flow from the mouth, ventilation techniques, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and other measures as indicated should be used.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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