Helping someone who is unresponsive and not breathing: sports first aid

Ben was training for a run when he collapsed without warning. It’s not common but when it happens, it’s vital to act fast.

Luckily Ben’s running partner knew first aid. Would you know what to do?

#UpYourGame: learn the skills to help someone who is unresponsive and not breathing.

Spot the signs

The person does not respond or move when you call their name or gently shake their shoulders.



Step 1: Check if they are breathing

Tilt the person’s head backwards to look and feel for breaths. If you do not see their chest or stomach moving and you cannot hear or feel breaths, they are not breathing.


Step 2: Call 999 immediately or get someone else to do it

As soon as you call 999, you will have someone to support you in this situation and help will be on the way.


Step 3: Give chest compressions and ask someone else to get an automated external defibrillator (AED)

An AED is a machine that can be used to shock a heart back into normal rhythm. Many public places such as train stations, sports centres and schools now have one available.


Step 4: Open the AED and follow all its voice prompts

Once opened, the AED machine will give you full instructions on what you need to do. Just listen and do what it says. This may include continuing with chest compressions. If an AED is not available then continue with chest compressions, pushing firmly at a regular rate until help arrives.

Running guide

Get your free guide

Whether you’re a fun-runner or training for a marathon, download this free first aid guide for runners and make sure you’re prepared.