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!

 

18 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

  12. Medic999 says:

    Not a nmonic, but I now understand that when a scene medic is calling 999 re a FAST issue, and in order to convey you understand and have done the test, you say positive FAST, to convey the urgency of your call.

  13. Danlows21 says:

    CHALETS and SADCHALETS (I cant remember what the SAD was off the top of my head, I think it was Standby, Active / Critical / Major incident, Declared (basically “All units Standby, I am declaring an Active/Critical/Major Incident” at which point you followed the rest of CHALETS)
    Are no longer in use by the UK Emergency Services. It was replaced with plain English declaring a Major/Critical incident or Mass Casualty incident, then preparing a METHANE message, which will take about a minute to collate. So “I am Declaring a Major Incident. The Exact location is , there has been an explosion / bridge collapse / tower block fire etc.
    Current Hazards are: secondary explosions/ further structural instability / fires spreading etc.
    Access is via , Egress is via .
    There are approximately 50 casualties, 15 Unresponsive with blast injuries and burns, 10 Severe blast injuries, 25 Walking Wounded.
    Myself and one other officer are on scene, we need LAS, at least 20 ambulances, multiple fire engines with ladders/lifting equipment, Police to set up cordons at 50 and 100 meters radius from , EXPO/EOD to survey primary and secondary RVPs, and contact the Gas Board to shut off supplies on X Y Z streets.”

    At each stage of the METHANE message, pause and allow the operator to confirm what you have said. And request a scene commander to come to scene and take over running the incident, as until they arrive, YOU are in overall control of the scene, and the priority at a scene like that goes:
    1: Preserve / Save life / Prevent Further loss of life.
    2: Prevent property damage.
    3: Prevent loss of Evidence
    4: Recover Deceased.

    Very quick rule of thumb with a Mass Casualty event:
    If someone is screaming, they are alive and breathing.
    If someone is moaning, they are breathing, but getting worse.
    If someone is quiet, they are either unconscious/unresponsive or dead. They are your first priority. After that, Catastrophic bleeding (arterial bleeds) are next priority.
    Sadly that means you will have to ignore one or more casualties in favour of others. Remember, you only have one pair of hands, so you CANNOT treat everyone, or you will end up saving NONE of them.

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