The aims of first aid – the three Ps

A simple way to remember the aims of first aid is to think of the “Three Ps” – Preserve / Prevent / Promote.

A first aider has a number of roles and responsibilities in an emergency situation but all first aiders should be aware of the key aims of first aid.

Preserve life

Your first aim is to preserve life by carrying out emergency first aid procedures. For example, opening a casualty’s airway or performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Preserving life should always be the overall aim of all first aiders. Remember though, this includes your own life! You should never put yourself or others in danger.

This is why the first stage in assessing a casualty (think DRABC) is to conduct a risk assessment and check for any dangers to yourself or bystanders.

If a situation is too dangerous to approach, you should stay back and call for professional help.

Prevent deterioration

The second aim of first aid is to prevent the casualty’s condition from deteriorating any further. For example, asking a casualty with a broken limb to stay still and padding around the injury will prevent the fracture from moving and causing further injury or pain.

In addition, this aim includes preventing further injuries. You should attempt to make the area as safe as possible and removing any dangers.

If removing danger is not possible you should attempt to remove the patient from the danger or call for specialist help. 

Promote recovery

Finally, you can promote recovery by arranging prompt emergency medical help. In addition, simple first aid can significantly affect the long-term recovery of an injury. For example, quickly cooling a burn will reduce the risk of long-term scarring and will encourage early healing.

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John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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5 Responses

  1. Jeff says:

    The three Ps have been part of first aid training for as long as i have delivered training, 1996. But still as relevant today as then.

  2. katews says:

    This is such a vital thing for everyone to keep in mind and it’s always been a good base to begin any first aid training.

    I think the “Prevent” part is the one where most untrained people end up making a mistake … i.e. moving an accident casualty who shouldn’t be moved… so much damage can be done not remembering that.

  3. Chanjan says:

    prevent deterioration can also mean prevent further injury. This can be to the victim, others but also yourself. An example would be a car accident with electrical wires. The prevent part would be to warn others not to go near the vehicle while live wires are on the scene. This is also part of the DRSABCD Danger. Checking for Danger firstly to yourself, to others and the patient. Preventing further injury.

    • John Furst says:

      Hi Chanjan, thats a great point. Preventing further injury is definitely an important part of a first aiders role. Thank you for your comment!

      Kind regards,

  1. August 24, 2015

    […] Specifically the three P’s acronym Preserve life Prevent further injury and Promote recovery ( After completing the course I believe that If I was to be In a situation which required me to […]

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