When a person is breathing, has no other known conditions that are life threatening, but is unconscious, then they should be placed into what is called the recovery position. This position is meant to ensure that their airways are going to remain clear and open so that they can breathe in the event that their lungs start to fill with fluid or they have vomiting.
In order to place someone in the recovery position, be sure that you:
- Kneel on the floor next to the person on either the left or right side
- The arm that is nearest the person should be at a right angle, while your hand is more towards their head
- Take your other hand and tuck this under their head, so that the back of your hand is resting on their cheek
- The knee farthest from you should be at a right angle
- Carefully roll the person to one side
- Your top arm will support their head, while the bottom arm is going to be used to stop the rolling if needed
- Tilt their head back and left their chin in order to ensure that the airway is open, be sure to listen to see if you can hear them breathing
- You must stay with the person and ensure their breathing and heartrate are normal
- Every 30 minutes put the person on their other side, if you are able and help has not arrived by this time
Dealing with a Spinal Injury
Those who are suspected to have a spinal injury should not be moved until help arrives, unless you believe that their airway is blocked. In this event, it is necessary to open their airway. While doing so you will want to be extremely careful to not move their neck.
The following situations are when you should suspect a spinal injury:
- The person has a head injury especially if you can see the damage on the back of the head
- The person is unconscious from a blow to the head
- They will not move their neck
- They say that they feel weak or numb
- They have no control over their limbs or their bodily function
- The neck is twisted or the back is twisted
If you fear that their airways are blocked in that they are vomiting, in danger of doing more damage or are choking, you are going to need assistance to move them.
In the event that the heart stops beating, you can perform chest compressions in order to keep the blood following. This is combined with rescue breaths and is called Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or CPR. If you are not able to give breaths, then simply perform the compressions. Be wary, as agonal breathing often happens with cardiac arrest. This is sudden and irregular gasps of breath. This is not something to mistake for normal breathing, hence CPR should be started.