Maintaining an open airway is a critical aspect of operational medicine. 6% of preventable battlefield deaths following injury are due to airway obstruction related to facial trauma.

In the unconscious victim, the tongue can fall back against the back of the throat, blocking air from moving into the trachea and lungs. Frequently, simple positioning of the chin, neck, and head will relieve this upper airway obstruction.

If positioning fails to immediately solve the problem, insert an airway. There are two types:

  • Oral Airway:
    This hard plastic device fits through the mouth, over the tongue and into the back of the throat. It will effectively keep the tongue out of the way. It is not a good choice in the conscious patient or semi-conscious patient because it frequently provokes the gag reflex, which could result in vomiting and aspiration by the victim. To insert the oral airway, use a tongue-blade or tongue-blade-like-device to push the tongue to the side. Then insert the oral airway. If no tongue-blade-like device is available, insert the oral airway reversed (with the curve upward toward the roof of the mouth. When half-way in, rotate the oral airway 180 degrees (so the curve is now downward) and the airway will usually slide right into place.
  • Naso-pharyngeal Airway:
    This soft rubber (latex) airway passes through the nose, straight back over the palate and into the back of the throat. It usually doesn't cause a gag reflex, but may cause some nasal irritation. It is best inserted after first lubricating the tip with KY jelly or other similar lubricant. Then pass the airway gently but firmly slightly up then over the palate until the flange is tight against the nose.


Airway Nasopharyngeal Robertazzi 30FR Oblique Tip

Weight: 0.01 pounds

NSN: 6515-01-167-6637

Airway Pharyngeal Berman (100mm)

Weight: 0.03 pounds

NSN: 6515-00-

Airway Pharyngeal Berman Child Size (80mm)

Weight 0.03 pounds

NSN: 6515-00-958-2232

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