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The lateral safety position, or PLS, is an indispensable technique for many first aid cases, as it helps ensure that the victim is not at risk of suffocation if he vomits.
This position should be used whenever the person is unconscious but still breathing, and does not present any life-threatening problems.
Step by step of the side safety position
To place a person in the safe lateral position it is recommended that:
- Lie the person on their back and kneel on their side;
- Remove objects that could hurt the victim, such as glasses, watches or belts;
- Extend the arm that is closest to you and bend it, forming a 90º angle, as shown in the image above;
- Take the hand of the other arm and pass it over the neck, placing it close to the person's face;
- Bend the knee that is furthest from you;
- Rotate the person to the side of the arm that is resting on the floor;
- Tilt your head back slightly to make breathing easier.
This technique should never be applied to people with suspected serious injuries to the spine, such as victims of car accidents or falls from a great height, as this can aggravate possible injuries that exist in the spine. Here's what to do in these cases.
After placing the person in this position, it is important to observe until the ambulance arrives. If at this time the victim stops breathing, he should quickly lie down on his back and start cardiac massage, to keep the blood circulating and increase the chances of survival.
When should you use this position
The lateral safety position must be used to keep the victim safe until medical help arrives and therefore can only be performed on people who are unconscious but breathing.
Through this simple technique it is possible to ensure that the tongue does not fall into the throat obstructing breathing, as well as preventing possible vomit from being swallowed and aspirated into the lung, causing pneumonia or asphyxia.