The jaw thrust is a method of opening the airway of a patient. The airway is very important in first aid! It consists of the structures in the back of the throat and upper neck.
A patient who is unconscious is not able to maintain their own airway as it can become blocked by the tongue (see picture).
Normally, first aid courses teach the head tilt – chin lift technique to open an airway. However, this airway manoeuvre involves significant movement of the patient’s neck. Therefore if there is any suspicion of a spinal (neck) injury it may cause further damage.