How to Assess the Victim
Assessing the victim is the first step in administering first aid. Before you can know what type of care you need to give, you must first determine exactly what is wrong with the patient. Follow these steps to assess the victim:
Assessing a Conscious Victim:
- Approach victim, and tell victim not to move. Identify yourself, and ask if you can help.
- If victim says "yes," ask what happened, whether victim is having trouble breathing, and if and where they have pain. Based on responses, determine if EMS should be called. If unsure, call for EMS. If victim is choking, see Choking.
- Check victim's head, neck, arms, legs, chest, and stomach for injuries. Look for bleeding, bruising, swelling, or other obvious injury. Feel as best you can for any bumps or irregularities on the arms or legs, but DO NOT touch or move any area that is painful. Be sure to tell the victim what you are going to do before you do it.
Check the victim’s arms and legs for any
irregularities, but do not touch any area that
is causing the victim pain.
- If you suspect a neck or back injury, DO NOT move victim or allow victim to move (see Back or Neck Injury). If no back or neck injury suspected, have victim rest in a position that is comfortable for them. If victim is bleeding, control bleeding (see Bleeding).
- Monitor victim's breathing, and stay with them until EMS arrives.
Assessing an Unconscious Victim:
- Approach victim, gently tap victim's shoulder, and ask if they are OK. If victim responds, go to the steps for a conscious victim.
- If no response and victim is an adult, call for EMS. If victim is a child, give care (see ABCs) for one minute before calling for EMS. If someone else is near, have them call for EMS.
- Check airway, breathing, and circulation (see ABCs).
- Check and care for bleeding (see Bleeding).
- If back or neck injury suspected, see Back or Neck Injury. If no back or neck injury suspected, put victim in Recovery Position:
The first step in placing the victim in
Recovery Position is to place victim’s far arm
above their head.
-Extend the victim's arm that is farther from you above the victim's head.
-Position the victim's other arm across the chest.
-Bend the victim's nearer leg at the knee.
-Support back of victim's head with one hand and push on victim's knee with other as you roll victim away from you onto their side.
-If victim vomits, wear glove and use your fingers to clear victim's mouth. DO NOT place fingers into mouth if victim is having a seizure.
- Monitor breathing, observe for shock (see Shock), and wait for EMS.
To learn more about first aid and emergency care, see: