Running into difficulties

Running is all about getting fit and healthy as well as having fun along the way.  Occasionally someone may run into difficulties (literally!) which takes the fun out of the equation. 

One of the hurdles people may face while running is breathing problems. 

There are many different causes of breathing problems, but the treatment aims are the same for all, so worthwhile knowing about.  Firstly, ask the casualty if they know what is happening.  They may have a diagnosed condition and therefore possibly medication and know how they need to be helped. 

It is vital to listen to your casualty both for clues to their treatment but also so they feel reassured and have confidence that you are working ‘with them’ and not ‘on them’.  Help them into a comfortable sitting position. 

People with breathing problems often feel their chest feels restrained even more if made to lie down.  Someone with asthma may be further helped by leaning forwards on a support.  If they have medication, now is a good time to help them find it.  Don’t be tempted to wait to see how things progress, inhaled medications rely on the casualty still being able to get a reasonable breath in, so don’t hang about. 

Give them lots of reassurance, eye contact and privacy - but never leave them on their own.  If at any point you feel concerned that their medication is not working, or if they do not have a diagnosis and things are not improving quickly, call for an ambulance. 

Sometimes the situation may deteriorate and the casualty may become unconscious.  If this happens, check if they are breathing normally.  If they are breathing normally they need to be rolled carefully onto their side into the Recovery Position to maintain a clear airway.  If they are not breathing normally, you will need to start CPR immediately. 

In either case, an ambulance needs to be called urgently.  If you would like to book on a first aid course to learn and practice these life saving skills please check out our web site – or email