If a person is unconscious but is breathing and has no other life-threatening conditions, they should be placed in the recovery position.
Putting someone in the recovery position will ensure their airway remains clear and open. It also ensures that any vomit or fluid will not cause them to choke.
To place someone in the recovery position:
Roll a person on their side with their arms and upper leg at right angles to the body to support them.
Tuck their upper hand under the side of their head so that their head is on the back of the hand.
Open their airway by tilting the head back and lifting the chin.
Monitor their breathing and pulse continuously.
If their injuries allow you to, turn the person onto their other side after 30 minutes.
If you think a person may have a spinal injury, do not attempt to move them until the emergency services reach you, unless their airway is obstructed.
If it is necessary to open their airway, place your hands on either side of their face and gently lift their jaw with your fingertips to open the airway. Take care not to move their neck.
You should suspect a spinal injury if the person:
has a head injury, especially one where there has been a large blow on the back of the head, and is or has been unconscious
complains of severe pain in their neck or back
won’t move their neck
feels weak, numb or paralysed
has lost control of their limbs, bladder or bowels
has a twisted neck or back
If you must move the person (for example, because they are vomiting, choking or in danger of further injury), you need someone else to help you roll them.
One person should be at the head and another along the side of the injured person. Work together to keep the person’s head, neck and back aligned while gently rolling the person onto one side.
The recovery position for babies
For babies less than a year old, a different recovery position is needed. Cradle the infant in your arms with their head tilted downwards to make sure they do not choke on their tongue or vomit.
Until help arrives, keep checking the baby’s vital signs, such as their temperature, pulse and whether they are breathing.