How to use DRABC – The Primary Survey

What is DRABC ?

How to use DRABC – The Primary SurveyDRABC stands for Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing and Circulation. As a First Aider, when you encounter a casualty you need to do the initial DRABC procedure otherwise known as the primary survey.

The DRABC procedure will allow you to establish what level of first aid you need to administer and if you need to call the emergency services. The primary survey is split into the steps D-R-A-B-C, you can remember this easily by remembering DR ABC.

This procedure is taught on a range of First Aid Courses with 3B Training. Take a look at our upcoming course dates here.

D – Danger

On the first step of DRABC, you need to determine whether it is safe to approach the casualty and that yourself and anyone else aren’t in a position to also become a casualty. For example; this could be stopping any oncoming traffic, looking out for live electricity, looking out for any places you could fall down or trip over.

Once you can confirm there is no potential danger you can begin to assess the casualty.

R – Response

Next, you need to try and get some kind of response from the casualty so the casualty can tell you what is wrong with them. To do this use the AVPU scale which will help you scale the level of response from the casualty.

  • A – Alert: first of all is the casualty moving or talking? If not proceed to V.
  • V – Voice: Try speaking to the casualty loudly and clearly to see if they respond to speech. Make sure that you are in the casualty’s eye line so that they can see who is talking. If you get no response, proceed to P.
  • P – Place: Place your hand on the collarbone of the casualty and carefully but firmly shake them. At this point, you need to continue to speak to the casualty making them aware of who you are. P can also stand for pain if the casualty responds as if they are in discomfort. If they do not show any signs of responsiveness proceed to U.
  • U – Unresponsive: at this point, you can assume the casualty is unresponsive.

A – Airways

Now you need to investigate why the casualty is unresponsive by checking their airway. To do this you need to place the casualty on their back and tilt their head back. Place your hand on the chin and forehead and lightly tip back their head. With your fingertips on the chin of the casualty lift their mouth open to open the airways.

B – Breathing

When the airway is open; look out for any signs of normal breathing for 10 seconds. If the casualty looks to be breathing abnormally, infrequently or not at all, be prepared to start CPR.

If the casualty is unresponsive but is breathing normally and isn’t in a state where they can be moved without damaging them further put them into the recovery position.

C – Call 999 / Circulation

If you reach this point and the casualty isn’t breathing you need to get someone to call 999 or if you are alone put your phone on speaker phone and do it yourself. Never start CPR until the emergency services have been called. If possible get someone to go and get an AED while you speak to the emergency services and stay with the casualty if you are alone. If you would like to learn how to use an AED, why not attend the AED Training course?

3B Training offers a range of First Aid Courses to choose from:

How to use a Defibrillator (AED)

Take a look at our step by step guide on how to find and use an AED in the event of an emergency here.

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