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First Aid/Tongue swallow in unconscious patient+potential neck injry


Was recently observing a soccer game whilst waiting to play afterwards. Player was knocked unconscious from a heavy blow to the head and also hit the ground pretty hard and also appeared to swallow his Tongue. An opposition player recognised that he had swallowed his Tongue, placed him on his side and I think he manually removed his Tongue. My question is- as player was unconscious and could potentially have neck injury, should airway be cleared as first priority then worry about the neck afterwards. Or apply spinal precautions immediately? How should the Tongue then be cleared?

Hi Tom,

The protocols in this situation would be to follow the ABC's (Airway, Breathing, Circulation).  You would check if there is an obstruction first as this would affect the "airway" (which is first).  This can be done without disturbing the current position of the injury.  If the airway is completely blocked and there is obviously no breathing, the neck needs to be stabilized with one's hands (taught in first aid courses and NOT recommended without appropriate training as serious consequences can occur) If there are two people, then the second person would clear the airway.  Using gauze to grab the tongue and pulling forward would clear the airway (in this case).  Breathing would then be assessed and attended to if required.  

I hope this answers your question.  If not, please do clarify and I will respond.

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