First aid for unconsciousness

Knowing what to do when someone is unconscious could save their life. Read on to find out all about unconsciousness!

What is unconsciousness?

When someone is unconscious they are totally unaware of their surroundings. They won’t be able to speak, see, talk, move etc. Think of unconsciousness as a bit like being asleep, except an unconscious person won’t wake up. In addition, someone who is unconscious will loose all muscle tone (they’ll be really floppy – like a rag doll).

There are numerous reasons why someone might go unconscious, these could include:

  • Head injuries
  • Seizures (e.g: Epilepsy)
  • Consuming drugs and / or alcohol
  • Low blood sugar (Hypoglycaemia)
  • Suffering a heart attack or stroke
  • Fainting
  • Getting too hot (hyperthermia) or too cold (hypothermia)

If someone is unconscious, it is a medical emergency.

First aid for unconsciousness

If you ever find someone collapsed, you can use the first aid mnemonic DR ABC to remember what to do!

Danger: Check for any dangers to yourself or the casualty. Ask yourself – what has happened to the casualty? Survey the scene and identify anything that could pose a risk to yourself, the casualty or the emergency services.

Response: Check for a response from the casualty. Try and wake them up; shout loudly in both ears and gently shake / tap them on the shoulders.

Airway: Kneel by the casualty’s head and open their airway by tilting their head backwards (with one hand) and lifting the chin (with two fingers of the other hand)

Breathing: Place your ear above their mouth and look at their chest. Check for normal breathing (regular breaths) for up to 10 seconds. Look/Listen/Feel for breath.

If they are breathing, place the casualty on their side with their head tilted backwards. One method of doing this is the recovery position. Watch the video below to learn how to place someone into the recovery position.

Once they’re in the recovery position, call an ambulance if one hasn’t been called already. Tell the ambulance service that you have a casualty who is unconscious.


Unconsciousness is when a person won’t wake up. Use “DRAB” to remember what to do if you find someone collapsed. Always call an ambulance.

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