CPR for Suspected Spinals

CPR HCP training provides advanced training to candidates including the use of advanced equipment, trained backup and how to manage victims of suspected spinal injuries. This page will focus on the latest techniques and methods of immobilizing a patients airway while still being able to ventilate. Participants enrolled in CPR HCP will learn more advanced methods outside of the head-tilt-chin-lift method of opening a patient’s airway. The material posted on this page is for information purposes only. To learn to effective open and maintain a patients airway with a suspected spinal injury take a CPR HCP course through St Mark James.


The rescuer(s) main priority when a victim is unresponsive or responsive and with a suspected spinal injury is to establish and maintain an open passage for air to enter and leave the lungs. Without a open passage or inability to recognize a closed airway may be fatal for the patient. In this scenario with the a suspected spinal injury, the rescuer should handle the neck in a method will not cause permanent damage to the spinal cord. In CPR HCP participants will laern airway management with C-spine control. The following is a list of recommended procedures for rescuers to follow when handling patients with suspected spinal injuries:

  • The rescuer should approach the victim from the front if possible so as to not startle the patient or have the patient turn his or her head.
  • The rescuer should introduce him or herself and reassure the patient.
  • If the rescuer finds a mechanism of injury that suggests spinal trauma, the rescuer should manually stabilize the head and neck. The rescuer can do this by approaching the patient from the top of his or her head and firmly placing his or her hands over the patients ears. The rescuer should place both elbows on the ground and stabilize the head and neck. This approach allows for the rescuer to use a jaw thrust manoeuvre to open the patients airway.

The Jaw Thrust

The jaw thrust is the most popular and effective procedure to open the patients airway with a suspected spinal injury. With the rescuer positioned in a immobilizing position, as stated above, the rescuer should place to or three fingers behind the angle of the jaw and thumbs on the cheekbones. The rescuer will lift with the fingers while holding the thumbs on the cheekbones. This process pulls the mandible upward to open the airway without tilting the head.

Candidates wanting to learn the above methods should enrol into a workplace approved CPR “HCP” course. In the course participants will receive hands on training and be able to practise and demonstrate these spinal control techniques on manikins and partners.