Basic airway opening techniques

Basic airway opening manoeuvres are simple techniques that can be performed anywhere and without the use of equipment. In most situations, the commonly used techniques of head tilt/chin lift and/or jaw thrust will be all that is required to relieve airway obstruction caused by the relaxation of soft tissues. These very basic manoeuvres have been described as part of basic life support (BLS) in Chapter 5.

• It is imperative that once a manoeuvre has been performed, it must not be assumed that it has been successful in opening the airway.

• Assessment should continue, using the look, listen and feel approach.

• If it is not possible to achieve a clear airway using either of these manoeuvres, it may be necessary to consider the use of suction or a simple airway adjunct.

• If there is evidence of trauma or any reason to suspect cervical spine injury, the jaw thrust is the airway opening technique of choice (American Heart Association (AHA) & International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) 2000).

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