HOW TO PERFORM AN EMERGENCY CRICOTHYROIDOTOMY
If you have to perform a cricothyroidotomy, you will need the following materials:
- A very sharp knife or a razor.
- A breathing tube. A stiff straw would be ideal, although you can use the tube from a ballpoint pen or even a rolled up playing card. You want rigid material; if it collapses, air cannot flow through. Naturally, if you have a first aid kit, it may have a tracheotomy tube included that you can use.
Note that you may not have time to sterilize the materials beforehand since you need to open the patient’s windpipe at once. Every second without oxygen increases the chances for brain damage. If you have some high proof alcohol handy (after all, it may be the reason you’re in this predicament) then use it. But remember that time is of the essence.
- Start by finding the Adam’s apple, also known as the thyroid cartilage. Contrary to popular belief, women do have an Adam’s apple (an Eve’s apple?). It is just more pronounced on men.
- Move your finger downward until you find the cricoid cartilage, which is a small bulge about 3/4” below the Adam’s apple. The area between these two bulges is called the cricothyroid membrane, which is where the procedure will be performed.
- Use the knife or blade to make a small horizontal incision a half-inch wide and a half-inch deep. Do NOT go deeper than this or you may cut through the windpipe. If you do it correctly, there should not be too much blood.
- Pinch the incision open or place your finger inside to keep the hole open.
- Place the tube into the incision to a depth of around a three-quarters inch to one inch.
- Make two quick breaths into the tube. Pause for five seconds then breathe into the tube once every five seconds. The patient should start breathing again if you have performed the procedure correctly.
As with other strange survival methods, you should follow an emergency tracheotomy or emergency cricothyroidotomy up with basic first aid. Make sure that the tube stays in place (secure it with tape if possible) and is not dislodged until emergency aid arrives.
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