CNA Training Skills: Performing the Heimlich Maneuver

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After CNA training, you imagine you would know exactly what to do if an emergency occurs in the hospital or nursing home. After all, that’s why you took CNA training right? To protect your patients and provide them with the best care possible?




Are you really sure you are prepared, though? What would you do if you walked into the dining room and found of your patients choking on their food? While you might think your brain would automatically know what to do, it isn’t always that simple. During CNA training, you need to pay close attention to the classroom and clinical instruction you receive so you know exactly what actions to take.

Caring for Conscious Patients Who are Choking After CNA Training


As you were taught while you were taking CNA training, never perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a choking adult or child who still has the ability to speak or cough. This indicates they are still able to breath and may be able to cough hard enough to dislodge the item that is stuck in their through. Simply encourage them to cough as hard as possible.


If the adult or child patient is still conscious but can’t cough or speak, take these steps until they are either able to breathe again on their own or they become unconscious.


  • Position yourself behind the patient and wrap your arms around his waist.
  • With one hand, make a fist, placing the side of your hand with your thumb against the patient’s stomach. Your hand should be positioned just above his naval and just below his ribs.
  • Place your other hand over your closed fist.
  • Using strong, quick, and upward pushes, thrust your hand and fist against the patient’s stomach.
  • Continue doing this, as you learned to do during CNA training, until the item blocking their airway comes out. Do not stop until the individual is able to talk, cough, or breath on their own or they become unconscious.


Caring for Unconscious Patients who Are Choking After CNA Training


After CNA training, you must take different steps to perform the Heimlich Maneuver if your patient is unconscious. If you find your patient is not breathing and not responding, and CPR breaths are not making the patient’s chest rise and fall, follow these steps.


  • Place the individual on a firm surface, like the floor. If you can not lower the patient to the floor, place a board underneath them.
  • Get down on the floor and kneel by the patient, positioning yourself near their hips.
  • With one hand on top of the other, place your hands in the same position as you would for a conscious patient, above his naval and below the ribs.
  • Thrust upwards, hard and quick using both your hands and your body.
  • Once you are able to see the food or object blocking your patients airway after CNA training, remove it.


The Heimlich Maneuver can save your patients lives after CNA training. Study and practice the skills you need to perform these lifesaving maneuvers during your CNA training.

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