If you suspect someone has a spinal injury and they cannot maintain an open airway, you need to place them in the recovery position.

Follow the advice below to try and keep the spine as straight as possible while maintaining the airway. 

What to do

  1. If you are alone, place them in the recovery position following the normal technique. Try to keep the head and spine in a straight line where possible while maintaining an open airway.

  2. If you have a helper, one of you should steady the head and neck while maintaining an open airway, keeping it in line with the spine while the other turns the casualty into the recovery position following the normal technique.

  3. If there are four or more people, you can use the log roll technique but you need to be with someone who has been taught this on a First Aid course:.


Related first aid advice

Spinal injury

There are a variety of possible causes for a spinal injury. The greatest risk is damage to the spinal cord. Find out what to do and what to look for.

How to put an adult in the recovery position

It’s safe to place someone in the recovery position who is not responding to you but is breathing normally. Learn what to do.

How to do CPR on an adult

If an adult is unresponsive and not breathing normally, you need to call 999 or 112 for emergency help and start CPR straight away. Learn what to do.

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