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Primary Survey

Updated: Jul 31, 2019


We used to teach DRABCDE, but that's old hat these days.


Safety should still be your primary concern, and you should still call for help as soon as you think you need it, but the Primary Survey is now CABCDE...


The Primary Survey is a rapid, structured assessment, designed to identify immediately life-threatening problems, in order of priority. It's good for both trauma and medical patients, with slight modifications for each.


When a problem is identified, you manage it as best you can within your ability and equipment, before moving on:


C - Catastrophic Bleeding (severe and sustained bleeding, likely to cause death in minutes) A - Airway Management (if they are unconscious) B - Breathing (to get oxygen in and CO2 out) C - Circulation (to get blood to the vital organs) D - Disability (to see how responsive they are) E - Environment (to protect them if exposed)


More about each of these in future posts.


Sometimes you won't get past 'A'. A past student contacted us the other day to tell us that they came across a car crash on the way home from the course. He ended up holding an unconscious person's airway open while they waited for the ambulance! You'll be please to hear that the patient survived.

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