Placing a Casualty into Recovery Position

Recovery Position

Use DRABC to remember the primary assessment sequence.

Recovery Position

Unconsciousness can disable a body´s natural reflexes such as coughing or gagging. If someone is unconscious and laying on their back, the airway can become blocked by the tongue or vomit. Placing a casualty into the recovery postion protects the airway from both of these dangers.

Recovery Position Guidelines

The simplest way to check if someone is unconscious is to shout loudly and gently tap the shoulders. If a casualty does not respond to voice or pain then they are unresponsive and unconscious and should be placed into the recovery position.

  • Monitor Breathing


  • Call 112

    for emergency help

Skill Performance

Place casualty into recovery position before calling 112. Kneel at the side of the casualty, preferably to roll them onto their left side:

  • 1Remove any glasses and straighten casualty´s legs.
  • 2Move nearest arm outwards, elbow bent, palm facing up.
  • 3Grasp far leg at knee with nearest hand and pull up.
  • 4Grasp casualty´s far hand and bring across the chest and hold against their cheek.
  • 5Keeping hand pressed against cheek pull on knee to roll them towards you onto their side.
  • 6Adjust upper leg so hip and knee are bent at right angles.
  • 7Make sure head is tilted and facing downwards to allow fluids to drain from mouth.
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Common Barriers to Action

"Imperfect care given is better than perfect care withheld."

Nervousness or anxiousness

A perfectly normal reaction when dealing with medical emergencies. However you must trust your training. When you follow the priorities of care as outlined during your course you are giving the casualty the best possible chance of survival.

Guilt if there is not a positive outcome

Some may hesitate when thinking about how they may feel if the casualty does not recover after delivering first aid. There is no guarantee that a casualty will live or reciver but be confident that what you offer has the potential to make a difference.

Fear of imperfect performance

People hesitate thinking they can not properly help an injured or ill casualty. It is seldom true that the smallest of errors will hurt or kill a casualty. If you focus on perfection you´ll have the tendancy to do nothing at all.

Fear of making a casualty worse

The most serious medical emergency is when a casualty is not responsive and not breathing. Some people fear they may make them worse, however it is not possible to make someone worse who is already in the worst state of health.

Fear of infection

Some people fear being infected by the person they are assisting. Research has shown that the chance of this happening by performing CPR is very low and in any case you may use barriers to minimise the risk of disease transmission.

Responsibility concerns

People are afraid of helping because of the fear of being sued. In most regions of the world there are accepted legal doctrines and laws that have been put in place to encourage people to come to the aid of others.

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