Unconsciousness

Is the state in which a person is unable to respond to stimuli and appears to be asleep. They may be unconscious for a few seconds — as in fainting — or for longer periods of time.

People who become unconscious don’t respond to loud sounds or shaking. They may even stop breathing or their pulse may become faint.

This calls for immediate emergency attention. The sooner the person receives emergency first aid, the better their outlook will be.

 

What are indicators that a person may become unconscious?

Symptoms that may indicate that unconsciousness is about to occur include:

 

How do you administer first aid?

If you see a person who has become unconscious, first check whether they’re breathing.

 

If they’re not breathing

If they’re not breathing, have someone call 911 or your local emergency services immediately and prepare to begin CPR.

 

If they’re breathing

If they’re breathing, take steps to get them into the recovery position. This helps them maintain a clear airway and decreases the risk of choking.

This video from the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) will show you what the recovery position is supposed to look like.

You can also follow the instructions listed below:

  1. Kneel on the floor next to them.
  2. Take the arm that’s closest to you and position it so that it’s perpendicular to their body, forming a right angle. The hand should be facing upward.
  3. Take their other hand and position it so that the back of the hand is pressed against the cheek that’s closest to you. Hold this position through the next few steps.
  4. With your free hand, bend their knee that’s farthest from you. Their foot should be resting flat against the floor.
  5. Help them get onto their side by pulling on the bent knee. After you roll them over, ensure that their top arm is still helping to support their head.
  6. Tilt their head back and lift their chin. This helps open their airway.
  7. Check their airway to make sure there’s no obstruction.
  8. Keep an eye on their condition, and remain with them until emergency personnel arrives.

 

If they’re bleeding heavily

If there’s major bleeding occurring, find the source of the injury and place direct pressure on the bleeding area until the bleeding’s slowed and expert help has arrived.

In cases where the person is bleeding from their limbs, you could also apply a tourniquet above the bleeding area until expert help arrives. Learn how to apply a tourniquet here.

If the person has a severe wound, you should:

  • elevate the part of their body that’s been injured (unless it’s the head)
  • place a medium amount of pressure on their wound (unless they’ve injured their eye)
  • help them lie down (so that if they happen to faint, there’s no chance of them falling and developing another injury)
 
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