What Do You Do If A Person Is Unresponsive But Breathing?

Emergencies can happen at any time and in any place, and knowing how to respond appropriately can make a significant difference in someone's chances of survival. One common situation that may arise is when you encounter a person who is unresponsive but still breathing. In such cases, it's essential to take immediate action while ensuring the person's safety and well-being. This guide will walk you through the steps to follow in this critical scenario.

Assessing the Situation

Before diving into the steps to assist an unresponsive but breathing person, it's crucial to assess the situation and ensure your safety.

1. Ensure Your Safety:

  • Before approaching the person, make sure the area is safe for you and others. Check for any potential hazards, such as oncoming traffic, fire, or electrical dangers.

2. Use Personal Protective Equipment (if available):

  • If you have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves or a face mask, use them to protect yourself from potential infection or contamination.

Checking for Responsiveness

Now that you've ensured the scene is safe and taken necessary safety precautions, it's time to check for responsiveness.

3. Gently Tap and Shout:

  • Approach the person and gently tap their shoulder or upper arm.
  • Shout loudly, "Are you okay?" to assess their responsiveness.
  • Do this for no more than 10 seconds.

Calling for Help

If the person remains unresponsive, the next crucial step is to call for professional medical assistance.

4. Call 911 or Your Local Emergency Number:

  • If you are alone and the person is unresponsive, or if there is someone nearby, instruct them to call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
  • If you have a mobile phone, call for help yourself while continuing to assist the person.

Monitoring Breathing

While waiting for professional help to arrive, it's essential to monitor the person's breathing.

5. Check for Normal Breathing:

  • Place your ear near the person's mouth and nose while looking at their chest.
  • Listen and feel for normal breathing for at least 5 seconds but no more than 10 seconds.
  • Look for the rise and fall of the chest to determine if they are breathing.

The Recovery Position

If the person is breathing normally, you can place them in the recovery position. This position helps maintain an open airway and reduces the risk of choking on vomit or fluids.

6. Placing the Person in the Recovery Position:

  • Kneel beside the person.
  • Place their arm that is closer to you at a right angle to their body, with the elbow bent and palm facing up.
  • Bring the far knee up towards their chest.
  • Carefully roll the person onto their side, facing you, with their head supported by their bent arm. Ensure the top knee remains bent to help maintain balance.
  • Tilt their head slightly backward to keep the airway open.
  • Monitor their breathing and stay with them until help arrives.

Continuous Assessment

While the person is in the recovery position, it's essential to continue monitoring their breathing and condition.

7. Continuous Monitoring:

  • Keep a close eye on the person's vital signs, including their breathing and pulse.
  • Be prepared to provide CPR if their breathing stops or becomes irregular.

Remember that the goal is to maintain the person's safety and well-being until professional medical responders arrive. If the person's condition worsens, be ready to initiate CPR and follow the guidance provided by the 911 dispatcher.

In emergency situations, remaining calm and following these critical steps can make a significant difference. Always prioritize the person's safety and seek professional medical assistance promptly.

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