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First Aid Training: HAINES Recovery Position

Posted by Wayne Bennett on

The HAINES (High Arm IN Endangered Spine) recovery position is definitely a skill everyone should have in their first aid arsenal. It not only makes a victims situation better, but it can save lives. When concerned about the neck or spinal injuries always place the left arm under the head for support.

This skill solves so many problems and prevents several potentially deadly ones. And it simply involves placing your victim on their side.

So, if your victim is unconscious or unresponsive and is lying on their back, here is a list of the potential problems or complications that the Recovery Position can solve.

The HAINES Recovery Position

1. If they are unconscious, but they are breathing, they are at risk of the tongue relaxing and falling back and blocking their airway. Since the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body for its size, it’s muscularity makes the tongue very heavy, if the tongue goes limp, that weight could cause the tongue to fall back and block the windpipe. By placing your victim on their left side the weight of the tongue will cause it to fall forward, clearing the airway and allowing the victim to keep breathing.

2. Injured or unconscious victims also tend to get nauseous, because of shock. Blood flow being diverted from the digestive tract to more vital organs for survival. By placing a victim on their left side could reduce nausea, thereby reducing the risk of vomiting and the complications that come with it.

3. If the victim does vomit while on their back, they are at risk for getting vomitus into their lungs. The bacteria from your gut is extremely infectious to your lungs. This could lead to pneumonia and death. Or, they could choke on their own vomit. Placing a victim on their left not only clears the airway of the tongue and reduce nausea but if the patient does throw up it will drain away from the lungs.

4. And the last advantage you gain by placing a victim on their left side is you can actually improve blood flow.
So in review, by placing a victim on their left to gain several advantages for your victim.

  • Maintains clear airway
  • Reduces nausea
  • Vomit drains clear of the lungs
  • Improves circulation

This simple technique creates a situation where things are not getting worse for the victim but rather better.


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