The Simple Act That Could Save a Life

Unresponsive, Unconscious? Intoxicated, Passed Out and Vomiting?

If you are reading this and you are worried about someone? Is the person?
  1. Unresponsive?  Call 911
  2. Unconscious?  Call 911

    If you don’t do something then you get to live with the consequences…just saying.

Now to the educational part of this post.

When someone becomes ill or even violently ill due to over indulgence, this can become a very serious medical situation. Every year thousands of people die, or become seriously ill from suffocation, or choking due to aspirating their own emesis or as we commonly call it, vomit.

We all know how this happens; college parties, adult parties, birthday parties, or just plain old “had too much”!

If you haven’t seen the YouTube videos of the “Drunk Girl” or “Drunk Guy” circulating on the internet (believe me they are out there by the tens of thousands) almost every single one of them feature some person positioning that poor  “Drunk Guy” or “Drunk Girl” on their back to simply let them sleep it off while they stack beer bottles on them, or give them a nice face paint job! Then they leave them there until they sober up, which is funny at first, but when morning comes the “face painted buttress of beer cans” victim is dead!

All of a sudden the parties over, and tragically just didn’t need to happen.

First, acute alcohol intoxication or alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency! Anytime someone is unresponsive you should call 911.

Acute alcohol intoxication or alcohol poisoning can occur after the ingestion of a large amount of alcohol. Inexperienced drinkers, or those sensitive to alcohol, may become acutely intoxicated and suffer serious consequences after ingesting smaller amounts of alcohol.

When ingested in larger quantities; alcohol slows body functions, including heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. When alcohol significantly depresses these vital centers; unconsciousness results and this is one step away from coma, and possible death.

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

  • Repeated episodes of vomiting.
  • Unconsciousness or semi-consciousness.
  • Slowed or irregular breathing. Slow respiration; eight or less breaths per minute, or lapses of more than 10 seconds.
  • Cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin.
  • Vomiting while “sleeping” or passed out, and not waking up after vomiting.

Appropriate and simple act that could save a life!

If a person exhibits one or more of these symptoms, we recommend that you call 911. This is a medical emergency!

While waiting for medical transport, gently turn the intoxicated person on his/her side and maintain that position by placing a pillow in the small of the person’s back. This is important to prevent aspiration should the person vomit. Stay with the person until medical help arrives.

This Technique developed by John Haines is called the H.A.IN.E.S Recovery Position.


Warning: Once the casualty is placed into the H.A.IN.E.S. Recovery Position, use airway maneuvers such as ‘Jaw Thrust’ (lifting the jaw ‘forward’ and upward, whilst avoiding pressure on the neck) first. This is in preference to a head tilt in order to further reduce movement to the neck.

* ‘How should an unconscious person with a suspected neck injury be positioned?’ – B. Gunn et. Al ‘Prehospital & Disaster Medicine’ – Vol 10, No: 4 Oct-Dec 1995. ‘The position of the spine in the recovery position – an experimental comparison between the lateral recovery position and the modified HAINES position’ – W. Blake ‘Resuscitation’; Vol 53; Issue 3; June 2002.

The above instructions are FREE for public access & use.

Intoxicated persons should be evaluated by a professional if:

  • Person is unable to stand or walk, or can only do so with difficulty.
  • Person is only poorly aware of his or her surroundings.
  • Person has difficulty breathing.
  • Person has passed out or is stuporous.
  • Person has fever or chills.
  • Person has difficulty speaking or identifying him/herself to others.
  • Person is obnoxious or unruly.
  • Person is reported to have consumed a large quantity of alcohol, or chugged, or ingested other sedating or tranquilizing drugs.
If an individual is not showing the above symptoms at this point, consider if the following three conditions are met:
  • Person is conscious, alert, and appears to understand the risks of the situation.
  • Person can state his or her name, class, and address.
  • Person is able to stand or walk without assistance, although speech may be slurred.

Then the following steps are beneficial:

  • Get the person to bed.
  • Place them on their side (H.A.IN.ES Position) with a pillow in the small of their back.
  • Someone needs to be checking in on them every 10-15 minutes for the remainder of the night.


Thank You to John Haines and Australian First Aid