Knowing what to do in an emergency can save someone’s life.

1. Open airway by tilting head back and lifting chin. 2. Look, listen and feel for signs of normal breathing.

3. If they are breathing:

  • Place or help them into the recovery position (see right)
  • Call 999 for an ambulance, or get someone else to do it if possible, and stay where you are with the person
  • Keep them warm.
4. An unconscious person who is breathing but has no other life-threatening conditions should be placed in the Recovery Position.

Turn them onto their side. Lift the chin forward to an open airway position and adjust hand under the cheek if necessary. Check that they cannot roll forwards or backwards. Monitor breathing and pulse continuously until help arrives. If injuries allow, turn the casualty to the other side after 30 minutes.

Dial 999 if you’re in any doubt about their condition and ask for the Ambulance Service. Stay calm, tell them what symptoms the person is suffering from and, if you know, what drugs they’ve taken. You will also need to give them your location if they need to send help.


If they are tense and panicky

  • Try to calm them down
  • Tell them where they are, what’s happening, and reassure them that everything’s going to be OK
  • Keep them away from things that might make them more panicky, like loud noises and bright lights
  • If they’re breathing too quickly or gasping for breath, try to get them to copy you as you breathe slowly and regularly
  • Get medical help.

If they’re drowsy but awake

  • Call 999 for an ambulance or get someone else to do it
  • Try to keep them awake and alert
  • Don’t give them anything to eat or drink as it may cause problems later.

If they’re dehydrated – looking very red and hot, but not sweating

  • Call 999 for an ambulance or get someone else to do it
  • Move them to a cool place and make sure they’ve got plenty to drink (if fully alert)
  • Open windows to cool the room if possible.

If they’re unconscious (not awake)

  • Call 999 for an ambulance as soon as possible or get someone else to do it
  • Check breathing by tilting their head backwards and looking and feeling for breaths
  • If the person is breathing, move them on their side and gently tilt their head back, loosening any tight clothing around their neck and chest
  • The ambulance call-handler will assist you in managing the patient and will guide you in resuscitation if required
  • When the ambulance arrives tell the crew what happened, what you’ve already done to help the person, and what you think they have taken
  • If you have any of the substance taken, give it to the ambulance crew.

Where Else To Get Help

If you’re worried, anxious or need information or advice, call the Know the Score Helpline on 0800 587 587 9 8am – 11pm, any day of the week. For help in your local area, check our directory of helpful services.

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