I'm translating a manual for doctors concerning cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The original text is in Russian. There are 2 phrases I'm confused about:

  1. "Человеку плохо" - it means that a person has suddenly become very ill, maybe unconscious, but not necessarily. For example, you see a man in the street suddenly falling down and you say this.

The text goes something like this: Step 3. Call for help: "Help, ...!"

I'm thinking about "a person is sick" or "a person in distress", but are they appropriate in this case? If there is no one general phrase for that, then what would you say about an unconscious person? I need something that would look appropriate in a manual.

Please note that all the details are given later, here I need only a very short "general" phrase.

  1. "Жест безопасности" - a gesture of safety or something like that. As far as I understand, it's a gesture a doctor makes before starting CPR: hands stretched in front of the body and then moved to the sides. Is there a standard English equivalent?
  • If someone has suddenly become too ill to stand, we say they have collapsed, which applies whether they are conscious or not. Does this help? – Kate Bunting May 15 '20 at 12:49
  • 1
    ' ... in obvious need of medical attention.' – Edwin Ashworth May 15 '20 at 13:01
  • This isn't relevant to the question, but may come in handy in your book but in a situation like that, never say something vague like "Somebody help!" or "Somebody call for help!" Point to a SPECIFIC PERSON and tell them SPECIFICALLY what to do. For example, For example, "John! (while pointing at him) Call 911 and tell them a man has collapsed and isn't breathing. Then go wait by the front door to show the paramedics how to get back here." – Kevin May 15 '20 at 16:03

When somebody suddenly falls down and looks unconscious, "call for help" usually means "dial 911 for immediate medical help" (an ambulance and a trained medical team). You are supposed to describe the situation ...

  • a young/an old man/woman seems to have suffered an attack¹ and passed out²)

  • "seems to have collapsed³"

...and follow any instructions you receive. "Call for help" doesn't usually mean you're supposed to shout out "help", though it may be the case if you don't have a mobile with you and there are people withing hearing distance.

Assuming you have to start CPR in an out-of-hospital scenario and you are the only provider, you'll have to apply closed chest compression and mouth-to-mouth ventilation if the patient is not breathing. In order to do that safely, the provider kneels down on the right side of the patient, and positions the heels of their both hands, one on top of the other, on the lower third of the sternum just above the xiphoid process. Their arms must be stretched and locked into that position during chest compressions. That would be called "safe hand and arms position" and it's the only "gesture" I can think of.

1 - "to be stricken by a sudden or acute onset of some kind of illness or its symptoms"

2 - "to fall asleep, faint, or lose consciousness"

3 "if you collapse, you suddenly faint or fall down because you are very ill or weak"


An alternative to collapsed worth considering for your first phrase is incapacitated. From M-W:

incapacitated: deprived of capacity or natural power : made incapable of or unfit for normal functioning

Your example:

"Help, a person has become incapacitated."


This person

needs medical attention


needs medical assistance


needs help.

  • Welcome to EL&U. As a reminder, when responding to questions you should explain the answer, not merely state it; this is particularly important on non-technical Stacks where the answer cannot be tested for accuracy simply by updating code, and the questioner must assess the question's validity based on its arguments and evidence and the answerer's qualifications. I strongly encourage you to take the site tour and review the help center for additional guidance. – choster May 19 '20 at 15:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.