Hollywood loves emergency tracheotomies. One was performed with a pen on Eric Stoltz's character in 1997's "Anaconda," and another using a straw on Franka Potente's character in 2000's "The Princess and the Warrior" [source: Cruikshank, et al.]. While the thought of cutting someone's throat isn't appealing, a tracheotomy is probably one of the easier emergency medical procedures for novices to perform.
A tracheotomy is necessary when someone can't breathe due to a throat obstruction. You can ascertain whether this is happening if the person isn't breathing or making any sounds, such as coughing or gasping. Before performing an emergency tracheotomy, first try the Heimlich maneuverthree times to see if you can dislodge the object. If that doesn't work, and the person has lost consciousness, take a razor blade or knife and make a 1/2-inch (13-millimeter) horizontal cut, 1/2-inch deep, into the person's throat, in between the Adam's apple and Cricoid cartilage, another bump that lies about 1 inch (25 millimeters) below the Adam's apple [source: Bissell].
Stick your finger inside the slit to open it up, then insert a tube into the hole roughly 1/2- to 1-inch deep. The tube can be a straw, a ballpoint pen sans the ink-filled tube, or stiff paper rolled into a tubular shape. Once the tube is in, breathe into it twice and then pause five seconds. Now begin alternating one breath with a five-second rest. If you've done the procedure properly, the person's chest should rise and he should regain consciousness [source: Bissell]. But still call 911.