Primary Survey – Five Simple Steps for an Unconscious Casualty


Would you know what to do if confronted by a colleague lying on the floor in front of you? The primary survey is the name given to the initial assessment of very unwell casualties to confirm if they are unconscious and NOT breathing so that they will be given the correct treatment. The acronym DRABC is given to the process of the primary survey and is a fast and systematic way to check and treat life threatening conditions in the correct order and is taught on our first aid courses:

1. D – Danger Always make sure that both you, the casualty and any bystanders are safe before you proceed.

2. R – Response Gently shake the casualties shoulders and call out “are you alright”. If they respond, do not move them but find out what is wrong and treat. If there is no response shout for “help” and move on to the next step.

3. A – Airway Carefully check that the casualties airway is open by putting one hand on their forehead and gently tilt the head back. Place two fingers on their chin and gently lift the chin to open the airway.

4. B – Breathing For no more than 10 seconds check to see if the casualty is breathing. Look for chest movements, listen for breathing sounds and feel for breath on your cheek. If you can not detect normal breathing perform CPR.

If the casualty is breathing normally go to C

5. C – Circulation Identify and treat any life threatening conditions such as serious bleeding or heart attacks. If there are no life threatening circulation problems you need to perform a Secondary survey….to be continued!

If you want to find out more – why not book onto one of our first aid courses. Click here for more information.