In an Emergency

If you find someone who has overdosed, find out what they have taken, whether they are breathing, and if not, whether they have a pulse. If someone has “nodded off” and doesn’t respond to shaking or their name being called (loudly), they are unconscious and need urgent medical help.


1)   Ensure someone calls an ambulance (it’s better to be embarrassed and have a live friend than to be going to a funeral wondering if you could have saved him or her. Ambulance officers are usually very efficient, Non-judgemental people – give them all the help and info they need.

2)   Lay the patient out on the floor (not a mattress)

3)   Check to see if their airway is clogged with vomit or their tongue. Remove any blockage.

4)   Tilt head back by lifting their chin, opening the airways to the lungs.

5)   Check for breathing by crouching down and watching to see if their chest is rising and falling. Be close enough so you can feel or hear any breath.

6)   If they have stopped breathing, hold their nose, take a large breath and force air slowly into their chest through their mouth. Repeat once more.

7)   Check their pulse - use two fingers. You should be able to find a pulse on either side of the windpipe (feel where it is on yourself if unsure. Do not use your thumb, as there is a pulse in it). If there is even a weak pulse, do not try the next step.

8)   Find where the ribs meet. About three finger widths up from this point, place the ‘heel’ of your palm and your other hand on top of it (see fig.6).

Depress the patient’s chest about 3 - 4 cms. Do this firmly. You are basically trying to jump start circulation by pumping the heart manually. Count “one, one thousand, two, one thousand, three, one thousand” (only to “three”), then depress again.

Repeat 5 times or more, and then give two full breaths, as in step 6. ?If you’re lucky, a pulse may be present. Check and stop. If there is no pulse, continue compressions until the Ambulance Officer or medical professionals arrive.

If you can, attend a St. John’s CPR course. They don’t take long, and it’s a useful and important skill to have.