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St John Ambulance - The Recovery Position


bdc32e8dd69a3df905dc2f8afd0271c5.jpg​​​​​​St John Ambulance, the nation’s leading first aid charity has teamed up with Raring2go! to bring you some simple, but life saving, first aid tips – this time: how to place a casualty in the recovery position.

If a casualty is unconscious, try to get a response by asking questions and gently shaking his shoulders. If there is no response, tilt the head back and lift the chin to open his airway. If he is breathing normally, place him in the recovery position. While waiting for emergency help, keeping the airway of an unconscious casualty open is vital.  

Follows these steps to place an adult, or a child over the age of one, in the recovery position:

  • Kneel beside the casualty. Remove spectacles and any bulky items from his pockets
  • Make sure that both of the casualty’s legs are straight. Place the arm that is nearest to you at right angles to his body with the elbow bent and the palm facing upward
  • Bring the arm that is farthest from you across the casualty’s chest and hold the back of his hand against the cheek nearest to you. With your other hand, grasp the far leg just above the knee and pull it up, keeping the foot flat on the ground
  • Keep the casualty’s hand press against his cheek and pull on the far leg to roll the casualty towards you and on to his side
  • Adjust the upper leg so that both the hip and the 3c84855abb96896ad61197a2894b2832.jpgknee are bent at right angles
  • Tilt the casualty’s head back and tilt the chin so that the airway remains open
  • If necessary, adjust the hand under his cheek to keep the airway open
  • If it has not already been done, call 999/112 for emergency help and monitor vital signs while waiting for help to arrive
  • If a casualty is to be left in the recovery position for more than 30 minutes, roll him on to his back and then roll him on to the opposite side – unless other injuries prevent you from doing this

If the casualty is a baby under the age of one, cradle the infant in your arms with his head tilted downwards. This position prevents him from choking on his tongue or from inhaling vomit. Monitor his vital signs until emergency help arrives.

For those looking for quick, easily accessible first aid information, the St John Ambulance app is available free on smartphones and the website ( offers demo videos, an interactive game, and lots of free advice. For more information about first aid courses please call 0844 770 4800

St John Ambulance

St John Ambulance

About St John Ambulance

St John Ambulance is the nation’s leading first aid charity.

Every year, 400,000 people learn how to save a life through our training programmes, including hundreds of thousands of young people. Our volunteers provide first aid in their communities, keeping people safe at events, and working alongside the NHS in response to 999 calls. We’re also always campaigning to raise awareness of first aid and directly educate the public.

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