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A tracheostomy is an opening in the neck made to open the airway and aid breathing when the patient has an obstruction or is unable to bring air into the lungs without assistance. Depending on the person’s condition, the tracheostomy may be temporary or permanent. When it comes to patients with tracheostomies, nothing can be more concerning than a trach-related emergency. Surprisingly, there are only a handful of trach-related issues that can turn into real emergencies.

Although each patient is unique and each scenario may be different if you remember the following steps you will be able to manage trach tube emergencies with ease.

Step One: Check the trach

Tracheostomy, anatomy of a trach and stomaCheck to make sure the trach tube is located in the stoma and is not dislodged or has fallen out of the stoma. The Stoma is the opening in the patient’s neck where the trach tube is inserted in order to supply air to the lungs. It is important to keep the area around the stoma clean and dry to prevent mucus from hardening around the opening and germs from getting into the lungs.

Step Two: Suction the trach tube

How to suction a trach tubeSuctioning aids to keep the airway clear by removing any secretions that may be obstructing it. If an obstruction problem arises suctioning the tube can clear the blockage and restore airflow to the patient.

Step Three: Add Saline

Ambu bag over trach tubeIf the trach tube is being obstructed by secretions that are thicker than normal, adding a little saline and bagging the trach tube using a self-inflating Ambu bag will help loosen the secretions.

Step Four: When in Doubt, Change it Out

If at any time you have doubts about what is wrong with the trach tube, change it out for a clean one.


Advanced Care Partners is dedicated to being committed, caring, and vigilant when it comes to our patient population as well as our caregivers. Our goal is to prepare for real-life emergencies regarding tracheostomy tubes and how to handle them.

Come join us in our effort to bring the best care to our community. See how to become a member of our family of caregivers here.

Already a caregiver? Sign-up for our vent and trach classes here.