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How to Determine If Someone Is Unresponsive & What To Do

How to check for responsiveness

Imagine walking through the grocery store and seeing someone fall to the ground. Do you know how to determine if a person is unresponsive? 

How should you assist the person until trained emergency medical personnel arrive? Would you know how to treat an unconscious person? 

We will explore some recommended ways to assist, should you ever find yourself in this type of situation.

How To Determine If Someone Is Unresponsive: First Aid For an Unconscious Person

First, you will need to check and verify that the person is unconscious. This can be accomplished by performing the following steps:

  1. Loudly ask if they are okay.
  2. Shake them gently to determine if they’re rousable.

If the individual is not responsive, you must take further action.

1. Unresponsive but Breathing Normally: What You Need to Do

Here is what to do if you encounter an unresponsive but breathing person:

1. Call 911

When calling 911, try to stay calm and clearly explain what is going on. In this case, you would tell the 911 dispatcher that you have found an unconscious person and answer their questions clearly and with as much detail as they ask of you. They may ask if you notice any injuries or suspect any trauma. Dispatchers are there to help and support you. You are not alone!

2. Open the Airway of the Victim

To open the airway, tilt their head back to ensure there are no blockages, such as the tongue or foreign objects.

3. Check Their Breathing

Now that the airway is open, it is time to check and see if the person is breathing using the Look, Listen and Feel process:

  • Look closely at the chest to see noticeable rising and falling of the chest.
  • Place your cheek next to the patient’s airway and listen to see if you can hear them breathing.

While your cheek is next to the airway, you should also be able to feel the breaths.

4. Place Them in the Recovery Position

If you have established the patient is unconscious but breathing, you need to try to keep the victim safe until help arrives. 

In this situation, it is best to place the person on their side and to tilt the head back. This helps keep the airway open. This is what is known as the recovery position.

2. Unresponsive and Not Breathing: What to Do

What should you do if a person is unconscious and NOT breathing normally?

If you have determined that a person is unconscious and unresponsive, and not breathing properly, you must immediately begin CPR to save their life.

How to Perform CPR

CPR is simple, easy to learn, and will help increase the patient’s chances of survival tremendously.

Basic CPR Steps:

  1. Call 911 to notify them of the emergency.
  2. Put the heel of one hand on the center of the person’s chest.
  3. Put the heel of the other hand on top of the first hand and interlock your fingers together.
  4. Position your body directly over the patient’s so that your shoulders are over your interlaced hands, and make sure your arms are straight.
  5. Push hard enough to make the chest compress two inches down and push fast to enough to keep a 100-120 beats per minute rhythm. 
  6. Perform CPR until EMTs arrive.

If an AED is available, use the device to Restart the Heart.

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