Adult Foreign Body Airway Obstruction Protocol (Conscious)

Recognizing signs and symptoms of Foreign Body Airway Obstruction (FBAO) is important as it will determine the actions that the First Aider will take. There are two types of Airway Obstruction – Mild/Incomplete FBAO and Complete FBAO.


Signs & Symptoms of Mild/Incomplete FBAO:

  • Casualty is still able to speak/cough/breathe


  • Encourage the casualty to cough to force out the foreign body (Note: May turn into complete FBAO if the foreign body cannot be dislodged)

Signs & Symptoms of Complete FBAO:

  • Casualty is unable to speak/cough/breathe


Techniques used to relieve FBAO include the Heimlich Manoeuvre (abdominal thrusts) and chest thrusts for pregnant and obese casualties.

The Heimlich Maneuver, also known as the subdiaphragmatic abdominal thrusts or abdominal thrusts is recommended for the relief of FBAO in responsive adults (more than 8 years of age) and children (1 to 8 years of age).

The Heimlich Maneuver elevates the diaphragm and increase airway pressure, which forces air out from the lungs. This creates an artificial cough which can expel the foreign body from the airway.

In obese or pregnant casualties, chest thrusts should be used instead of abdominal thrusts.

Abdominal Thrust

 Perform Chest Thrusts for obese/pregnant adults