|This is a particularly difficult situation to deal with. The victim’s airway is always your first priority. The person may have a broken back that could cause nerve damage and paralysis, but if you do not protect the airway and ensure that the victim continues breathing, she will die.
If you come across an unconscious person whom the nature of the accident or the positioning indicates that she may have broken her back (for example, a bystander tells you the victim fell, or the person is wearing motorcycle leathers and lying next to a damaged motorcycle), your priority remains to check the airway.
If the victim is unconscious and either the head is not extended or she is not lying on her side, you need to move her into the recovery position. Ideally, with enough bystanders, you should use the log roll. If not, be prepared to roll the victim into the recovery position with all available help.
- Ask a question to find out if the victim is conscious. Do not shake the victim.
- Carry out your ABC checks, taking care to tilt the head gently. If the head is already extended a suitable way, do not move it any further. Instead, just use the chin lift and carefully check the mouth.
- If the victim is not breathing, provide rescue breathing and full CPR as needed.
- If you have to roll the victim onto her back to resuscitate, then you should aim to keep the victim’s head, trunk, and toes in a straight line. If possible, get bystanders to help move the victim over, but do not waste time looking for help because the victim needs air as soon as possible.
- If the victim is unconscious and lying in such way that head is extended and she is on her side, allowing fluid to drain from the mouth, then leave her alone.
- Hold the victim’s head still by placing your hands over the ears and your fingers along the jaw line. Ensure that the airway is monitored.