CPR Pistol Grip - First Aid

Whilst teaching the first aid course, time and time again I have had to remind my students to be careful of the casualties (or manikins) throat when checking the airway, as it seems common place for the hand to accidently rest on the throat whilst doing a head tilt or performing rescue breaths. 

It therefore seems logical to include and emphasise the Pistol Grip when teaching.


What is a Pistol Grip?

A Pistol Grip is employed by grasping your hand into the shape like a pretend pistol.


When you grasp the casualties chin it is important to open the airway properly. To attain the CPR pistol grip make a fist with your hand then release the thumb and first finger next to the thumb.


Next place your thumb on the casualties chin just below and horizontal to the bottom lip. The three remaining scrunched up fingers go under the chin to allow a good grip on the casualties jaw.


The remaining finger (the one next to the thumb) just sits anywhere comfortable above the scrunched fingers. 


Why It is important?

The use of two fingers on the bottom of the chin just isn't as effective. Here is why:


When the casualty is laying on their back the tongue can fall back and block the airway. Using a CPR pistol grip allows the first aider to be able to pull the jaw forward slightly, in turn pulling the tongue clear so the airway is partially opened. The head tilt does the rest of the job in opening the airway fully.


Additionally the CPR pistol grip assists in clearing the epiglottis. The epiglottis is the little flap located in the upper airway. It blocks the airway when food, drink or foreign matter is likely to endanger the airway. The CPR pistol grip should theoretically (I have not researched this enough to be conclusive) assist in moving the epiglottis and slightly opening the airway. (for example: It may become very swollen in the case of epiglottitis or even an allergic reaction). Also in a near drowning incidents the casualty will have a spasm whereby the muscles surrounding the voice box spasm and the epiglottis endeavours to stop the passage of water into the lungs.