First aid mnemonics HANDY REMINDERS

Here’s a list of useful first aid mnemonics which our team of first aid trainers have put together. First aid mnemonics are a great way to remember key emergency information and a useful tool when teaching first aid or preparing for a first aid exam/test.

Want to suggest a first aid mnemonic? Please use the comment box at the bottom of the page to suggest one!

New: Download our free First Aid Mnemonics Handout in PDF format! Feel free to distribute this document on first aid courses and training sessions

General first aid mnemonics

> DR ABC (primary survey)

Danger
Response

Airway,
Breathing
Circulation/Compressions/Call an ambulance

> HEAD (general approach to a patient)

History
Examination
Action
Documentation

CHAT (key things to document)

Chief complaint
History
Allergies
Treatment

Major incident  (A structured concise handover to other emergency services)

> METHANE

Major incident declared
Exact location
Type of incident
Hazards (present and future)
Access
Number, type, severity of casualties
Emergency services now present and those required

> CHALETS

Casualties, number, type, severity
Hazards (present and future)
Access routes that are safe to use
Location
Emergency services present and required
Type of incident
Safety

History taking

> SAMPLE (questions to ask casualties)

Signs & symptoms
Allergies
Medication
Previous relevant medical history
Last oral intake
Event history

> PQRST-U (assessing pain)

Provoke – What provokes the pain?
Quality – What is the pain like? Sharp? Dull? Ache?
Radiates – Does the pain go anywhere else?
Severity – How bad is the pain on a scale of 0 – 10.
Time – When did the pain start/finish.

U – What do you think might be causing it? Is this normal for you? Have you had this before?

> SOCRATES (assessing pain)

Site – Where is the pain?
Onset – When did the pain begin?
Character – Sharp? Dull? Ache?
Radiation – Does the pain go anywhere?
Associated symptoms – Any other symptoms? e.g: Nausea & Vomiting
Timing – When did the pain begin?
Exacerbating and relieving factors – Does anything make it better or worse?
Severity – How bad is the pain on a scale of 0 – 10

Fractures

> PLASTIC (signs & symptoms of a fracture)

Pain
Loss of movement
Angulation (position of the limb)
Swelling
Tenderness
Irregularity
Crepitus 

> LIP DUST (signs & symptoms of a fracture)

Loss of movement
Irregularity
Pain

Deformity
Unnatural movement
Swelling
Tenderness

Major bleeding and shock

> PEEP (treatment of major bleeding)

Position
Expose
Elevation
Pressure

> RED-E (treatment of major bleeding)

Rest
Expose
Direct Pressure
Elevation

CLIP GG’s (types of wound)

Contusion
Laceration
Incision
Puncture
Gunshot
Graze
Stab

Causes of unconsciousness

> FISH SHAPED 

Fainting
Infantile convulsions
Shock
Head Injury

Stroke
Heart Attack
Asphyxia
Poisons
Epilepsy
Diabetes

Sprains & strains

> RICE (treatment of a sprain or strain)

Rest
Ice
Comfortable position / compression
Elevation

Levels of consciousness

> AVPU (assessment of level of consciousness)

Alert
Voice – does the casualty respond to verbal commands?
Pain – does the casualty respond to a pain stimulus?
Unresponsive

Handovers

> ASHICE (handover of a casualty – normally done over the radio / phone)

Age
Sex
History
Injuries
Consciousness level/changes
Everything else / ETA

> ATMIST (handover of a trauma casualty)

Age
Time of incident
Mechanism of injury
Injuries (top to toe)
Signs (vital signs)
Treatment given

> SBAR (handover of any critical situation)

Situation
Background
Assessment
Recommendations

Secondary survey

> DOTS (things to look for on a secondary survey)

Deformity
Open wounds
Tenderness
Swelling

Burns 

> SCALD (assessment of a burn)

Size
Cause
Age
Location
Depth 

Sports first aid / injuries

> SALTAPS (assessment of the injured player)

Stop
Ask – questions about the injury
Look – at the injury
Touch – feel for tenderness
Active movement
Passive movement
Stand – can they weight bear? 

Please use the comment box below to suggest your own first aid mnemonics. We’d love to hear them!

 

16 Responses

  1. Daniel Morris says:

    In the mnemonic fish shaped, i suggest changing Anaphylaxis to axphixia.

  2. Chris FAW Trainer says:

    Hi surely you mean Asphyxia (which will be caused by anaphylaxia)?

    Chris
    FAW Trainer

  3. maripereira says:

    Hah, these are all great. My memory isn’t the best, and I’m sure it gets a lot worse during a stressful situation, so these will come in handy. I mean, I don’t wish I get caught up in the middle of an emergency, but you never know, right? It’s better to be prepared.

    • John Furst says:

      Thanks for your kind words maripereira, yes its always better to be prepared and hopefully these mnemonics will help you remember what to do in an emergency!

  4. beckysja1998 says:

    I know a one called FAST which is for a stroke which could be used
    Face
    Arms
    Speech
    Time

  5. ben_millar says:

    One I was taught for arriving to a scene was SUNMD.
    S – scene survey/safety
    U – Universal precautions (gloves etc.)
    N – number of casualties
    M – mechanism of injury
    D – do I need help? (ALS etc.)

  6. Troybell says:

    Causes of a burn

    C – chemical
    I – ice
    D – dry e.g fire, friction, something hot to touch
    E – electrical
    R – radiation
    S – scald

  7. Troybell says:

    Prioritising injuries/casualties

    B – breathing
    B – bleeding
    B – burns
    B – bones

  8. Troybell says:

    Assessing fractures

    T – talk
    O – observe
    E – examine
    T – touch
    A – active movement
    P – passive movement
    S – strength/skill test

  9. qualwafer says:

    Qualwafer
    Recognition Features Heart Attack SHARP PAIN
    S-Sudden faintness or dizziness
    H-Hot profuse sweating
    A-Ashen skin and blueness of the lips
    R-Rapid weak or irregular pulse
    P-Persistent vice like chest pain,
    P-Pain does not ease with rest.
    A-Air hunger (extreme gasping for air)
    I-Indigestion discomfort high in the stomach
    N-Normal breathing lost (breathlessness)

  10. minioxnz04 says:

    I have used a mnemonic as a medic for years and now as a tutor for easily differentiating a Fracture from a Sprain.

    Its called PLUSB and PSB. The similarities illustrates to students the complexity of identifying whether they are seeing a simple sprain or more likely a fracture.

    FRACTURE SPRAIN/STRAINS
    P-Pain P – Pain
    L-Loss of movement
    U-Unusual shape
    S – Swelling S – Swelling
    B – Bruising B – Bruising

    I generally explain to students that if they have someone who has noticeable loss of movement and/or the injury site looks unsual/out of shape to treat as a fracture until there has been an exam by a doctor/A&E.

    Hope this is helpful, I have enjoyed looking at all the other mnemonics that are on this site.

    Thanks,
    Des

  11. minioxnz04 says:

    Hey there,

    i understand we teach people to use DRSABC, but have found an easy way to ensure students understand the importance to check their safety before entering a site/situation.

    I teach the D-Dangers component but in this part of DRSABC i teach them to STOP. They look at me a bit funny but when i explain that when i say think STOP i mean :

    S-Stop before entering
    T-Think about what to look for that could be a hazard
    O-Observe what the patient is doing and other factors in the area such as machinery, vehicles etc.
    P-Proceed when it is deemed to be SAFE.

    This is just a simple and yet very effective mnemonic that I have used and teach medic students.

    Thanks
    Des

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