Initial Assessment and Recovery Position

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First Aid for Unconscious Individuals

Initial Steps

STOP, THINK, ACT: When called to assist someone who is unconscious, first call for help and try to find out if anyone witnessed the incident. Look for hazards and ensure they are removed. Check for other potential dangers and obstacles.

Request Assistance

If possible, ensure someone is with you to call emergency services if needed. Introduce yourself to the patient, give them a gentle tap on the collarbone, and ask for permission to help. If they are conscious, talk to them to find out what happened and prevent them from moving while you assess the situation.

Checking for Breathing

If the patient is unconscious, ensure they are breathing. If they are not breathing, commence CPR immediately.

To check for breathing:

  • Open the airway by tilting their head back to draw the tongue away from the back of the throat.
  • Place one hand on the patient's forehead and the other under their chin, gently lifting the chin and pushing the forehead back.
  • Look, listen, and feel for breathing for up to 10 seconds by placing your ear close to their mouth, listening and feeling for breath, and looking for chest rise and fall.

If the Patient is Breathing

If the patient is breathing normally, CPR is not required. Instead, send someone to call an ambulance and ask them to return to inform you of the estimated arrival time.

To keep the airway open and prevent choking on vomit, place the patient in the recovery position.

Recovery Position

Steps to place the patient in the recovery position:

  1. Put on gloves if available.
  2. Conduct a quick head-to-toe survey to check for injuries, feeling the shoulders, arms, and chest for deformities, blood, or fluid.
  3. Check that their legs are in a normal position and there is no significant damage to the hips or legs.
  4. If no injury is found, proceed to place the patient in the recovery position.

Steps for Recovery Position:

  1. Kneel beside the patient.
  2. Ensure their legs are straight and feet together.
  3. Place the nearest hand to you on the floor at a 90-degree angle to their body, forming a support for their head.
  4. Take the farthest hand and interlock your fingers with theirs, bringing it across their body and holding it against their cheek closest to you.
  5. With your other hand, lift the farthest knee to bring their foot flat on the floor. Using their leg as a lever, pull them towards you while still supporting their head, so they are on their side.
  6. Ensure the airway is open.
  7. Adjust their leg to support them and keep them on their side.

Ongoing Care

As a first aider, your role is to keep the patient comfortable and warm. Continue to speak to the patient and monitor them to ensure they are still breathing. If someone is available to help, ask them to find out when the ambulance will arrive.

If you are alone and do not have a phone, you may need to leave the patient to call for emergency services. Ensure they are breathing before you leave and check again upon your return.