accessibility & help

First aid for someone who’s
unresponsive and breathing

Watch the video, in which Gemma is treated when found unresponsive and breathing.

Use the information below the video to remind yourself how to help someone who is unresponsive and breathing.


Check breathing by tilting their head backwards and looking and feeling for breaths.

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When a person is unresponsive their muscles relax and their tongue can block their airway so they can no longer breathe. Tilting their head back opens the airway by pulling the tongue forward. Looking at their chest to see if it’s moving, and feeling for breaths on your cheek, will help you tell if they’re breathing or not. Find out what to do if they are not breathing.


Move them onto their side and tilt their head back.

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Putting them in this position with their head back helps keep the airway open by making sure their tongue falls forward and blood and vomit drain out. This is sometimes called the recovery position.


As soon as possible, call 999 or get someone else to do it.

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Send us your stories

We love to hear from people who have stepped forward to help in a first aid emergency. If you have a first aid story that you'd be happy to share, please email including your name, telephone number and some brief details about what happened. The British Red Cross will only use your information to contact you about your first aid story.

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Baby and child first aid

Young woman checks for breathing on a baby

Learn online what you should do in a range of baby and children first aid emergencies.