Key Learning Points

In an injured player, once it is deemed safe to approach, assessment of the airway (ideally while maintaining in line cervical spine immobilisation) takes priority over all other matters. This may take a matter of seconds, and require no intervention, or it may require active intervention.

Simple manoeuvres to open the airway are the head tilt-chin lift, or the jaw thrust. In trauma patients, the jaw thrust is preferable since it does not require movement of the cervical spine. These techniques essentially lift the tongue forward from the back of the mouth.

Simple adjuncts to open the airway are the nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal airways.

Advanced adjuncts include the laryngeal mask airway, I-gel airway and formal tracheal intubation.

If the above techniques fail, then a surgical airway is required. This may be a needle cricothyroidotomy, or a more formal surgical cricothyroidotomy.