Stoma: Although Rare, First Aiders Need To Be Aware

Some people may have a hole in their throat just below the Adam's apple. This is their airway i.e. they breathe through this hole. The stoma is created surgically usually because of cancer or because of physical injury to the area. We never perform this sort of operation in the field, it is much too dangerous, despite what we might see on television.

If, as a first aider, you ever need to perform rescue breathing, it is in this hole that you would need to blow in to. It may sound odd, but it does work. And there is one major advantage over breathing in to someone's mouth; the air can't get into the person's stomach because this opening only goes to the lungs. And if they do vomit there will be no interference with their airway.

The stoma may be held open by a plastic ring. Do not remove this ring. Some people with a stoma may keep it covered with a light scarf, so you need to check for this.

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