How to put someone in the recovery position

If this is an emergency, please call 000 immediately.

What is the recovery position?

In a medical emergency, call triple zero (000) immediately.

The recovery position is vital in ensuring that you can keep the patient's airways clear, and prevent them from choking on any substance that may be in their throat or mouth, such as vomit.

This guide is regularly updated and aligns with the current edition of Australian First Aid (4th edition, 7/2011)

What to do

Adult or child (over 1 year)

With the patient on their back, kneel beside the patient and position their arms.

  • Place the patient’s furthest arm directly out from their body.
  • Place the patient’s nearest arm across their chest.

Position the patient’s legs.

  • Lift the patient’s nearest leg at the knee and place their foot on the floor so the leg is bent.

Roll the patient into position.

  • Roll the patient away from you onto their side, carefully supporting their head and neck the whole time.
  • Keep the patient’s leg bent with their knee touching the ground to prevent the patient rolling onto their face.

Place the patient’s hand under their chin to stop their head from tilting and to keep their airway open.

Infant (under 1 year)

Lie the infant face down on your forearm.


Support the infant’s head with your hand.



Recovery position fact sheet

CPR wallet card

Related advice

How to do CPR on an adult

If an adult is unresponsive and not breathing normally, you need to call 000 for emergency help and start CPR straight away. Learn what to do

How to do CPR on an infant

If an infant is unresponsive and not breathing normally, you need to call 000 for emergency help and start CPR straight away. Learn what to do.

DRSABCD action plan

The St John DRSABCD Action Plan is crucial in assessing whether a patient has any life-threatening conditions and if any immediate first aid is necessary.

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