Airway adjuncts refer to equipment used to establish and maintain an open airway, keep the airway clear, assist in ventilation, and ensure adequate oxygenation.
If you have taken basic first aid, you should have learned how to provide basic life support without using special devices. In advanced first aid courses, especially for healthcare providers, paramedics, and EMTs, participants learn how to use special devices to keep the airways open. These medical devices, also called “airway adjuncts,” are essential in ensuring patent airway. Remember that establishing an open airway is the first step in the ABCs of life. When the victim becomes unconscious, the tongue slides at the back of the throat and obstruct the airway.
Although establishing and keeping the airway open is possible even without equipment, emergency care is more effective when airway adjuncts are used. It increases the outcome of the victim by providing more oxygen to the exchange levels of the patient’s lungs. In addition, it also greatly reduces the effort needed by the rescuer. Advanced first aid courses teach participants how to use and maintain these important emergency devices.
There are the different types of airways used. Oral airways or oropharyngeal airways are among the most commonly used airway devices in emergency and first aid situations. Take note that these devices are only used on unconscious victims who do not display a gag reflex. If used on a conscious victim, inserting airway adjuncts can induce vomiting which cause further cause airway obstruction or a fatal lung infection, later on.
Here are some essential things to remember on the use of these airway devices.
- Use airway devices only on unconscious victims without gag reflex.
- Open the victim’s airways before inserting the device.
- Use on any non-breathing, unconscious victim. If the victim indicates gagging reflex, withdraw the device immediately and ensure an open airway through manual technique.
- Avoid pushing the victim’s tongue back into the throat.
- Remove the airway device if the victim vomits or exhibits gag reflex.
- Wear gloves and practice aseptic technique while inserting the device.
It is also important to choose the correct airway size for the victim. Otherwise, the device cannot effectively maintain an open airway or provide adequate oxygenation. To select the right size of the oral airway, measure from the corner of the victim’s mouth to the tip of the ear lobe on the same side of the face. The airway device should extend from the center of the mouth to the angle of the lower jaw and opens at the back of the throat.
Airway adjuncts are an important in providing efficient first aid. Learn and develop advanced first aid skills by taking advanced first aid courses offered by the workplace approved.