Life-saving handle

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Relocation of the airways on the head cut model
Free airways on the head cut model

The life-saving handle ( overstretching the neck , " head tilt and chin lift " according to ERC guidelines) is an emergency measure that is used to clear and keep the airways of an unconscious person free . It is part of the emergency life-saving measures .

This measure is necessary because when unconsciousness occurs - unlike during sleep - the entire skeletal muscles including the tongue muscles slacken, which leads to an impairment of breathing in the unconscious person lying on their back : During the resting tone of the muscles, the tongue normally holds in the oral cavity , it sinks into the pharynx in the flaccid state following gravity , where it can relocate the larynx ( glossoptosis ). If left untreated, this usually leads to death from suffocation . In order to pull the base of the tongue forward and thus clear the airways again, the neck of the unconscious person is hyperextended.

The modified Esmarch handle serves to reinforce this effect by additionally pushing the lower jaw or chin forward and lifting it up.


  • RW Koster, MA Baubin, LL Bossaert et al .: European Resuscitation Council Guidelines for Resuscitation 2010: Section 2. Adult basic life support and use of automated external defibrillators. Resuscitation. 2010 Sep 15. PMID 20956051