Finding an Unconscious Person

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Should you find someone you think is unconscious, no matter the scenario, something you must do is remain calm. More often than not, the chances are that the person is simply resting, so if you ran over to them screaming hysterically, they will most probably jump up out of their skin and not be very happy with you. By remaining calm, you will be able to give them the best possible help as you will be thinking clearly, it will also reduce the risk of you making mistakes. As with other first aid, you should use the doctor DRABC approach, however, should you suspect an opioid overdose, this can be adapted to DRHAB and C. So the D stands for danger, as you approach the scene, you must check all around the person for any potential dangers, look up high, around the waist levels and all over the floor, in cases of suspected opioid overdose, checking the floor is especially important, as there may be used needles around, not only would this give you a strong suspicion of opioid overdose, it also helps to avoid needle-stick injuries, you may also find some naloxone should the person affected had been proactive before taking the opioids, another potential dangers are the people who may be angry or confused nearby or may attempt to hurt you. Should any dangers that cannot be removed be found it is vital that you stay back until more qualified help arrives, otherwise, you may be at risk of being harmed yourself becoming another casualty.

The R stands for the response. This is where you are actually checking to see if the person's unconscious, on the approach to the person, you can call out to them if there is still no response, shout out something like, hello, can you hear me? Or, do you need help? Or my name's Keith I'm a first aider. Another thing to try is to squeeze their shoulders or tap their collarbones, both of these will hopefully send signals to their brain to try and wake the person up, especially if they are only asleep. However, if after all this time there is still no normal response, the person is just to be assumed to be unconscious, at this point, you should shout for help, the H. If you are alone, you need to call the emergency medical services or EMS for extra support. We will go over this in a separate video as there are few details that should be highlighted and gone into a bit deeper.

The next thing is A, where you would open the airway, whilst you are calling the ambulance, you can open the airway by doing something called the head tilt chin lift, this involves placing one of your hands on the patient's forehead and the other underneath their chin. Then what you are going to do, you gently lift the chin, while you are tilting their head backwards, this pulls the root of the tongue occluding their throat. When unconscious on their back, the muscle tone of the tongue is lost, meaning it will fall back, compromising the airflow to the lungs, therefore, by doing this simple movement, you can quickly restore the airflow to the lungs, making sure the body gets as much oxygen as possible. After this, you should check their breathing, the B, this is done by looking, listening and feeling for the signs of breathing.

In non-COVID times, you should place your ear close to their mouth, so that you are looking down their chest towards their feet and you are checking for breathing for no more than 10 seconds and any other signs of chest rise, you may be able to hear the breaths or feel the air in your cheek, this can be adapted during COVID times to just observe and listen to see if there is any airflow, this is useful to do as you do not have to get as close to their face where the infection could possibly be transmitted.

If there are no signs of breathing, then the ambulance must be informed and that a patient is unconscious and not breathing, this is where the extra step for opioid overdose comes in and the naloxone. If you have already found some naloxone or you have some on you, you are all set to carry out this step, if not have a brief look around, such as chests or drawers or in the person's pockets for some naloxone. Do not take too long for this, after looking for a short period of time and there is no naloxone to be found, then move immediately to the next step, if naloxone has been found, then you can administer it as long as you have had the correct training, make sure the ambulance has been informed about whether naloxone has been administered or not as well, if the person is unconscious and not breathing and you have no naloxone, then CPR must be commenced. If naloxone has been given, then the patient could be placed in the recovery position, this involves rolling them onto their side and making sure that their airway remains open, this allows the airway to remain unblocked and also allows fluids such as vomit to flow out of their mouth, instead of becoming a potential choking hazard, they will hopefully remain in this position until they come around, if however, after two to three minutes they have not woken up, you can give them a second dose of naloxone if available.