The spinal recovery position is a variant of the normal recovery position. This should be used if you suspect the patient has injured their spine. With the normal recovery position, the persons’ spine is liable to be moved about quite a lot. If a person has injured their spine, moving them could cause further damage. Therefore to combat this, the spinal recovery position was developed. As with all spinal injuries, you want to immobilise the spine. Consequently, if there is more than one person at the scene, you may be able to perform a “log roll”. You will also be able to maintain c-spine immobilisation.
The method is actually quite similar to the normal recovery position. However, this has to be done with much more care, as a lot more is at stake. Therefore we recommend that you do not attempt this unless you have had proper training and practice in doing so. Of course, if they are choking and need to be moved onto their side, by all means, do so. Otherwise, they would not be able to breathe and would be dead in a matter of minutes.
In the Recovery Position
Once you have moved them, ensure they are breathing and their airway is open. Talk to them the whole time as even though they are unconscious they may still hear you which is reassuring. Then go for help. If they vomit, they will not choke if they are on their side, and they should stay in that position. If you need to leave them, for example, to call the emergency services, put a blanket over them to keep them warm. When you return, recheck their breathing and keep reassuring them until help arrives. Tell the EMS what has happened, what signs you have seen and, if they were conscious, what symptoms they told you.
For more information on training courses, visit our “Courses” page which also includes our First Responder and First Person on Scene (FPOS) Courses.