What is the best method for assessing a casualty?
A primary survey is a quick assessment of a casualty to find and correct any life-threatening issues. It often follows a structure such as DR ABC (or DRSABC). This involves checking the following things:
- Danger – any hazards to yourself or bystanders?
- Response – is the casualty unconscious?
- Shout for help – if they are unconscious, shout for further help but do not leave their side
- Airway – open the airway by tilting the head back and lifting the chin
- Breathing – check for normal breathing for up to 10 seconds
- Circulation – perform CPR and use a defibrillator if the victim isn’t breathing
A primary survey should be carried out to assess all casualties.
Once a primary survey has been performed, you can move onto a more thorough secondary survey. It may not be possible to perform a secondary survey if there are problems with the primary survey. For example, performing CPR takes priority over performing a secondary survey.
The secondary survey involves:
- History – finding out the history of the incident / illness from the casualty or bystanders
- Examination – looking for visual clues
- Vital signs / observations – if trained, recording relevant observations
The primary and secondary survey provide a structure for you to assess each casualty in a logical way. You can learn how to perform primary and secondary surveys in more detail by signing up to a free online first aid class.