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Bacchus Maneuver

If someone passes out from drinking too much, you can help by positioning them so they will not choke on their vomit. If you are worried about them, get medical attention, especially if you can't awaken them to the point that they can talk to you.

The Bacchus Maneuver

  1. Raise the arm that is closest to you above their head. Prepare to roll them toward you.
    Bacchus Maneuver 1
  2. Gently roll them toward you, guarding their head from hitting the floor. The head should rest in front of the arm, not on it. 
    Bacchus Maneuver 2
  3. Tilt the head up to maintain airway. Tuck their nearest hand under the cheek to help maintain head tilt and raise the face off the floor.
    Bacchus Maneuver 3
  4. Check on them often.

What about Backpacking?

You may have heard of 'Backpacking' or 'Jansporting', when a person puts a backpack on someone to prevent them from rolling over on their back and choking on their own vomit. Unfortunately this is NOT an effective way to prevent choking and can even be dangerous. Why?

  1. The most important thing to prevent choking is keeping the airway open. A backpack may prevent someone from rolling over on their back, but it does not necessarily mean that their head is placed in a way that maintains an open airway. 
  2. If a backpack is placed on someone who is too intoxicated, it is likely they will not know they have it on when they wake up. When they try to stand, this may cause them to fall or fumble which increases risk of head injury. 
  3. While this seems like an easy solution, backpacking can encourage a false sense of safety in which one forgets or neglects to monitor the person. Even if the intoxicated person is in a position that prevents them from choking, it does not mean they aren't at risk for other medical emergencies related to alcohol poisoning. 

The bottom line: If a person is intoxicated enough that you are concerned about them choking on their own vomit, then you should not leave them alone. You should put them in the bacchus maneuver above, and continue to monitor them to make sure their condition does not degrade. If that person's condition does not improve or gets worse over time, you should call 911 and have them medically assessed.