accessibility & help

First aid for someone who’s
unresponsive and not breathing when an AED is available

Watch the video, in which Duncan gets help. He is unresponsive and not breathing but an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available.

Use the information below to remind yourself how to help someone who is unresponsive and not breathing when an AED is available.


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 their breaths on your cheek, will help you tell if they’re breathing or not.


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


Give chest compressions.

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Chest compressions help blood continue pumping around the body. This keeps vital organs, including the brain, alive. Many people call this CPR, which stands for cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.


Tell someone to get an AED as soon as possible.


Open the AED and follow all its voice prompts.

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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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