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 maintain 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: 

    • While you support the casualty’s head and neck - maintaining an open airway - ask your helpers to gently straighten the casualty's limbs.
    • Position two or three people on one side to roll the casualty towards them, and two people on the other side to help support the casualty as they are rolled.
    • The helpers that are preparing to roll the casualty towards them will need to place their hands in the following positions. The person positioned at the legs should place their hands under the furthest leg. The middle helper places one hand under the furthest leg and the other hand on top to support the hip. The third helper supports both arms and shoulders.
    • Instruct the helpers to roll the casualty on your count. Keep the casualty’s head, neck, and spine in a straight line at all times while maintaining an open airway.
    • Once the casualty has been rolled onto their side, the upper leg should be supported to keep the spine straight. Continue to maintain an open airway, keeping the head, neck, and spine in a straight line until help arrives.
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