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Coma/recovery position

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

recovery position

Several variations of the recovery position have been described each with its own advantages. The position should be stable, near a true lateral position with the head dependent, and with no pressure on the chest to impair breathing.

The RC (UK) recommends the following sequence of actions to place a victim in the recovery position:

  • remove the victim’s glasses, if present

  • kneel beside the victim and make sure that both his legs are straight

  • place the arm nearest to you out at right angles to his body, elbow bent with the hand palm-up

  • bring the far arm across the chest, and hold the back of the hand against the victim’s cheek nearest to you

  • with your other hand, grasp the far leg just above the knee and pull it up, keeping the foot on the ground

  • keeping his hand pressed against his cheek, pull on the far leg to roll the victim towards you on to his side

  • adjust the upper leg so that both the hip and knee are bent at right angles

  • tilt the head back to make sure that the airway remains open

  • if necessary, adjust the hand under the cheek to keep the head tilted and facing downwards to allow liquid material to drain from the mouth

  • check breathing regularly.

If the victim has to be kept in the recovery position for more than 30 min turn him to the opposite side to relieve the pressure on the lower arm


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