Knives Saving Lives: NZ Midwife performs tracheotomy on choking beau

Midwife performs tracheotomy

When I was an EMT-I back in college, I learned how to intubate an unresponsive patient, but tracheotomies (cricothyrotomy) were beyond my scope of practice (it was a paramedic skill). I am not sure about the rules in NZ, but I would be pretty sure it wouldn’t be a typical part of a midwife’s training either. However, when Sarah Glass saved her boyfriend’s life recently, it was actually the second time she had performed the maneuver in her life.

From Daily Mail UK:

‘He was completely purple, but we were getting air in and it looked like we might be able to keep him going,’ Ms Glass told the Daily Mail Australia.  

‘After about eight minutes we were no longer getting air into him. The piece of steak had moved, so he was now turning a very nasty shade of purple and he was dying in front of us,’ she said.

The Hawke’s Bay woman yelled out if anyone had a sharp object to puncture a hole in his windpipe.

‘I can’t get air in him – I’m going to have to cut him,’ she said.

Ms Glass was handed a Stanley knife blade and cut underneath his Adams apple.

‘I felt relief when I was handed the blade,’ she said.

The midwife said when he began choking everyone was following orders to save her partner’s life.

She preformed a tracheotomy on her partner, a procedure she had studied in her 20s, and used a syringe from a home-birthing kit to keep the airway open.

The off-duty midwife then used an oxygen tank which was also in her kit to bring him back to colour.

Twenty minutes later a paramedic arrived and Mr Bester was airlifted to hospital 30 minutes after he began choking.

I find it slightly ironic that this is being reported in a UK paper, where the only ones carrying knives are the criminals. A person could die while people are trying to find a knife in polite company. New Zealanders are apparently made of slightly stouter stuff than those back in the Mother Country.





  1. Sam L. says:

    I would think whoever was cooking would have had a knife in the kitchen.

  2. James Fulford says:

    Some choking on an obstruction can be relieved by reaching in with your fingers and pulling the obstruction out, a lot of the rest can be relieved with the Heimlich Maneuver. Tracheotomy is very much a last resort. But if someone’s turning a “nasty shade of purple”, they’re dying—you have to do something.

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Knives Saving Lives: NZ Midwife performs tracheotomy on choking beau

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