GUEST COLUMN: Top tips on using the recovery position, by Dr Tim Baker, St John Ambulance
This week we're going to look at how to place a casualty in the recovery position.
If a casualty is unconscious, try to get a response by asking questions and gently shaking his shoulders.
If there is no response, tilt the head back and lift the chin to open his airway.
If he is breathing normally, place him in the recovery position. While waiting for emergency help, keeping the airway of an unconscious casualty open is vital.
Follow these steps to place an adult, or a child over the age of one, in the recovery position:
• Kneel beside the casualty. Remove spectacles and any bulky items from his pockets.
• Make sure that both of the casualty’s legs are straight. Place the arm that is nearest to you at right angles to his body with the elbow bent and the palm facing upward.
• Bring the arm that is farthest from you across the casualty’s chest and hold the back of his hand against the cheek nearest to you. With your other hand, grasp the far leg just above the knee and pull it up, keeping the foot flat on the ground.
• Keep the casualty’s hand pressed against his cheek and pull on the far leg to roll the casualty towards you and on to his side.
• Adjust the upper leg so that both the hip and the knee are bent at right angles.
• Tilt the casualty’s head back and tilt the chin so that the airway remains open.
• If necessary, adjust the hand under his cheek to keep the airway open.
• If it has not already been done, call 999/112 for emergency help and monitor vital signs while waiting for help to arrive.
• If a casualty is to be left in the recovery position for more than 30 minutes, roll him on to his back and then roll him on to the opposite side – unless other injuries prevent you from doing this.
If the casualty is a baby under the age of one, cradle the infant in your arms with his head tilted downwards. This position prevents him from choking on his tongue or from inhaling vomit. Monitor his vital signs until emergency help arrives.
For those looking for quick, easily accessible first aid information, the St John Ambulance app is available free on smartphones and the website (www.sja.org.uk) offers demo videos, an interactive game, and lots of free advice.
For more information about first aid courses please call 08700 10 49 50.