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CPR & Recovery Position

If a person is not breathing normally after an accident you should call for an ambulance and then, if you are able to, start CPR (also known as mouth-to-mouth resuscitation) straight away. CPR, or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, is a combination of rescue breaths, and chest compressions to keep blood and oxygen circulating in the body.

For adults

Place your hands on the centre of the person's chest and, with the heel of your hand, press down (4-5cm) at a steady rate, slightly faster than one compression a second.

After every 30 chest compressions, give two breaths.

Pinch the person’s nose. Seal your mouth over their mouth and blow steadily and firmly into their mouth. Check that their chest rises. Give two rescue breaths, each over one second.

Continue with cycles of 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths until they begin to recover or emergency help arrives.

For children

Open their airway by placing one hand on the child’s forehead and gently tilting their head back and lifting the chin. Remove any visible obstructions from the mouth and nose.

Pinch their nose. Seal your mouth over their mouth and blow steadily and firmly into their mouth, check that their chest rises. Give five initial rescue breaths.

Place your hands on the centre of their chest and, with the heel of your hand, press down one-third of the depth of the chest using one or two hands.

After every 30 chest compressions (at a steady rate, slightly faster than one compression a second) give two breaths.

Continue with cycles of 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths until they begin to recover or emergency help arrives.

For babies under one

Open the baby's airway by placing one hand on their forehead and gently tilting the head back and lifting the chin. Remove any visible obstructions from the mouth and nose.

Place your mouth over the mouth and nose of the infant and blow steadily and firmly into their mouth, check that their chest rises. Give five initial rescue breaths.

Place two fingers in the middle of the chest and press down one third of the depth of the chest. After 30 chest compressions at a steady rate (slightly faster than one compression a second) give two breaths.

Continue with cycles of 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths until they begin to recover or emergency help arrives.

If a casualty is unconscious, but is breathing and has no other life-threatening conditions, they should be placed in the recovery position. Putting someone in the recovery position will ensure the airway remains clear and open. It also ensures that any vomit, or fluid will not cause them to choke.

To place someone in the recovery position

Place the person on their side, so they are supported by one leg and one arm. Open their airway by tilting the head back and lifting the chin. Monitor their breathing and pulse continuously. If injuries allow, turn the person onto their other side after 30 minutes.

If you think a person may have a spinal injury, do not move them, place your hands on either side of their face and gently lift their jaw with your fingertips to open the airway. Take care not to move their neck. If their breathing is or becomes noisy then place them in the recovery position.

The recovery position for babies

For babies less than a year old a different recovery position is needed. Cradle the infant in your arms with their head tilted downwards to make sure they do not choke on their tongue or vomit.

Until help arrives, keep checking the baby's vital signs, such as their temperature, pulse and whether they are breathing.