First Aid


If a drug user is showing unusual symptoms or seems to be in distress, they may have had an allergic reaction to the drug they have taken, or they may have overdosed. Symptoms to look out for could include:

  • Dizziness
  • Sickness or Nausea
  • Sudden Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle Cramps and Aches
  • Irregular Breathing
  • Heavy Slurring of Speech
  • Convulsions
  • Paralysis

If you think someone is having a reaction or has overdosed, it is important to take the following actions immediately:

  • In a club or pub, get help from the staff straight away. Be completely honest about the drugs that have or may have been taken. Most clubs and pubs will have a member of staff who is first aid trained. This person should stay with the person until medical help arrives.
  • Phone 999. Tell the operator that you need an ambulance. Be clear and calm. Tell the operator exactly where the person is, what drugs they have taken and what symptoms they are showing. Be prepared to listen carefully to any advice given by the operator. You may be required to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, put the person into the recovery position or provide other life-saving treatment in an emergency situation. You will need to stay calm and keep a clear head.
  • Make sure the persons airways are not obstructed. Look out for vomit blocking the airway and check that the person has not swallowed their tongue. Collect evidence of any drugs that have been taken. This will be vital for doctors to make a quick diagnosis and provide the best possible treatment.
  • Collect containers that drugs have been kept in, including wrappers, packets, cling film, tin foil and syringes. If the person has been sick, try to collect a small sample of vomit for analysis at the hospital.


Remember: DRABC

D = Danger. Ensure there is no danger to you or the person.
R = Response. Is the person conscious?
A = Airway. Is their airway clear?
B = Breathing. Are they breathing? If not, start…
C = Chest compressions. This will ensure blood is circulating around their system.

misc_cprAfter checking for danger and a response, open the persons airway by tilting their head back with one hand and lifting the chin with two fingers of the other hand.

You do not need to clear the casualties mouth unless you can see something in there such as seaweed or food.

Check to see if the casualty is breathing: look, listen and feel for breathing for no more than 10 seconds. There is now a need to act if the casualty is not breathing normally.

Send or call for help at this point.

Begin chest compressions. Evidence shows that there is enough oxygen reserve in the blood, and the emphasis is on circulating the blood to get the oxygen to where it is required:

Kneel alongside the person and ensure the airway is open as described earlier.

Place two hands in centre of chest and press down.

Perform 30 chest compressions at a rate of 100 per minute, to a depth of 4-5cm. Allow the chest to come back up completely after each compression.

Give two rescue breaths (mouth-to-mouth-resuscitation) taking one second for each breath and ensuring the airway is open and their mouth is completely sealed by yours.

Make no more than two attempts at rescue breaths each time before returning to chest compressions.

If you are unable or unwilling to give rescue breaths, give chest compressions only.