How to deal with an unconscious individual

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If an individual collapsed, you should confirm if he/she is unconscious and breathing or ceases to breathe. The safest thing to do is seek immediate medical care as soon as possible. If another individual is around, ask him/her to call for emergency assistance. In case alone, shout for help and once someone arrives, ask him/her to call for an ambulance.

What should I do if an individual is unconscious and breathing

What is the DRAB survey?

While waiting for help to arrive, you should follow the primary steps of the DRAB survey – Danger, Response, Airway and Breathing.


Assess if you or the unconscious individual is in danger. If needed, make sure that the area is safe and check the individual.

Response (adult or child)

If still alone with the individual, shout out for help again and check if the individual responds.

  • Loudly shout at the individual such as “Can you hear me?”
    Unconscious individual
    If there is a response such as breathing, you should assess for significant bleeding and other types of injuries.
  • Shake gently the shoulders

Response (unconscious infant)

If an infant is unconscious (those below 12 months old, you should check for response using the following:

  • Flick or tap on the sole of the foot of the infant to prompt a response
  • Avoid shaking the infant.


If there is a response such as breathing, you should assess for significant bleeding and other types of injuries. You might have to assist with breathing by opening the airway by positioning one hand over the forehead and 2 fingers to raise the chin.


If there is no response, you should check if breathing:

  • Position your cheek close to the mouth
  • Observe, pay attention and sense for no more than 10 seconds if the chest is rising and dropping and feel the breath against the cheek.

What is the recovery position?

If the individual is breathing, put him/her in the recovery position until the emergency team arrives:

  • Turn the individual to his/her side.
  • Raise the chin forward to open the airway and correct the hand below the cheek if needed.
  • Check if the individual could not roll forward or to the rear.
  • Continue to monitor the breathing
  • If possible, turn the individual to his/her side after 30 minutes.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on an unconscious individual is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to properly care for an unconscious individual, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
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