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Questions and answers about helping someone who isunresponsive and breathing

Here are some questions people often ask. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please feel free to email us at firstaid@redcross.org.uk or use this form.

Q

How can I check for a response?

Answer
Answer

Speak to them: call their name and ask them if they are OK. Gently shake their shoulders. If they don’t respond to you, or if you do not get a coherent response from them, treat them as an unresponsive person.

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Q

Is it called the ‘recovery position’ when you move a person onto their side and tilt their head back?

Answer
Answer

Yes, ‘recovery position’ is a commonly used term to describe how an unresponsive person who is breathing should be placed so that their airway stays open.

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Q

If I think the person has a back or neck injury, should I still turn them on their side?

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Answer

If you suspect a back or neck injury, you should still move them onto their side so they can keep breathing. Try to keep their spine in a straight line when turning them. If possible, get someone else to help you turn them.

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Q

Should I try talking to someone who is unresponsive and breathing?

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Answer

Yes, talk to the person and reassure them. Even though they might not respond to you, they may still be able to hear what is going on.

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Q

What do I do if the unresponsive person’s breathing doesn’t seem normal?

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Answer

Sometimes when a person is unresponsive their breathing may become noisy or irregular. This is usually a sign that their heart and lungs are not working properly. If a person is unresponsive and they have noisy or irregular breathing or are gasping, treat them as an unresponsive person who is not breathing.

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Q

What should I do if someone is feeling faint?

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Answer

If someone is feeling faint, advise them to lie down on their back and raise their legs to improve blood flow to the brain. Fainting is caused by a temporary reduction in the flow of blood to the brain and can result in becoming unresponsive for a brief period of time. A person who has fainted should quickly become responsive again. If they don't, treat them as an unresponsive person.

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Q

How do I treat a baby who is unresponsive and breathing?

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Answer

Find out how to treat a baby who is unresponsive and breathing.

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