First aid for an unconscious casualty

First aid for unconscious casualties: Essential knowledge and best practices

Encountering an unconscious casualty requires prompt and knowledgeable action. This article will provide essential guidance on how to manage such emergencies effectively, emphasizing the importance of preparedness and proper training.

The importance of first aid training

Emergencies that render individuals unconscious demand immediate and skilled assistance. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics highlight that effective first aid can significantly reduce the severity of injuries and potentially save lives. This is particularly crucial in workplace environments where the right actions can lead to rapid recovery and prevent long-term health issues.

Understanding unconsciousness

Unconsciousness can result from a variety of factors, including medical conditions like seizures or severe hypoglycaemia or from injuries such as head trauma. It manifests as a state where the individual is unresponsive and cannot be woken, which demands urgent medical intervention.

Legislation and best practices

Under the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, UK employers must ensure that employees receive immediate attention if injured or taken ill at work. This includes providing adequate first aid training and facilities. The Resuscitation Council (UK) provides detailed guidelines on managing unconscious casualties, including maintaining an open airway and monitoring vital signs until emergency services arrive.

Key steps in first aid for an unconscious casualty

  • Assessing the situation - Check the environment's safety for both the rescuer and the casualty. Gently shake the casualty's shoulders and ask loudly, "Are you okay?" to assess consciousness.
  • Calling for help - If there is no response, dial 999 immediately. Give clear and precise information about your location and the casualty’s condition.
  • Airway management - If the casualty is unresponsive, carefully place them on their back and tilt their head back to open the airway. Ensure there are no obstructions, such as food or foreign objects.
  • Breathing check - Look, listen, and feel for breathing for no more than 10 seconds. If breathing is not normal, start CPR if you are trained to do so.
  • Recovery position - If the casualty is breathing but remains unresponsive, position them into the recovery position to keep the airway clear and open. Continue to monitor their breathing and responsiveness.

Implementing best practice

Regular training in first aid tailored to the specific risks of the workplace is crucial. Courses incorporating the latest guidelines from the Resuscitation Council (UK) and the Health and Safety Executive can empower employees to act confidently and correctly in emergencies.


The ability to administer effective first aid can significantly impact the outcome of emergency situations involving unconscious casualties. Training is essential to compliance and workplace safety, equipping individuals with the skills to make a real difference when it matters most.

Are you equipped to respond if someone becomes unconscious? Click here to enhance your readiness and confidence with our accredited first aid training courses and qualifications. Or discover more about our online training courses and begin your journey toward becoming a capable professional in your workplace and community.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always seek professional medical assistance in emergency situations.

About the author

Rose Mabiza

Rose has dedicated over 15 years to improving health and social care quality through practice, targeted education and training. Her extensive experience includes working with older adults, individuals with mental health conditions, and people with autism and learning disabilities.

First aid for unconscious casualties: Essential knowledge and best practices - ComplyPlus LMS™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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