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First Aid for Possible Neck Injuries

What to Do in a Neck Emergency


Updated May 30, 2011

No one wants an emergency neck injury, but being prepared for one can lessen the chances of permanent damage, as well as death.

What to Do - Or, Not to Do

  • If someone has suffered a severe neck injury, call 911 for life support and help.
  • Do not move the person, especially the head or neck unless failure to do so presents an immediate threat or urgent danger.

Exceptions to Immobility

You can move a person with a possible neck injury when:

  • Not moving them would be an immediate threat to their life.
  • They are vomiting.
  • They are choking on blood.
  • You need to check for breathing and/or pulse so you can determine if they need CPR. (See CPR below.)

If you HAVE to move a person you suspect has a neck injury, keep their head and neck immobile and move their entire body as one unit. Do the same if you need to roll them over. To roll a victim over, you will need at least two people -- one at the victim's head and one at the feet.

CPR: Resuscitation

Knowing how to administer CPR properly is crucial to reacting to an emergency injury with hopes of a good outcome. It can also make the difference between life and death. The Red Cross gives certifying courses in CPR.

The following are a few tips taken from CPR procedures that will help you determine if a person needs CPR. If they do, it is best if someone who has been certified in CPR be the one to administer the CPR.

First, check the person's breathing:

  • Position your cheek close to the victim's nose and mouth, look toward victim's chest.
  • Look, listen and feel for breathing for 5 to 10 seconds.

Check pulse (circulation).

  • Check for carotid pulse by feeling for 5 to 10 seconds at side of victim's neck.
After checking breathing and pulse, determine if CPR is necessary. DO NOT NOT LIFT VICTIM'S HEAD BACK WHEN OPENING THEIR AIRWAY TO ADMINISTER CPR. Instead open the jaw by placing fingers on either side.

*Note - This article does NOT cover everything you need to know to safely respond to an emergency requiring CPR administration. GET CPR CERTIFIED!
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  5. What to Do in a Neck Injuries- First Aid for Serious Neck Injuries

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