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First Aid

Primary Survey Using DRABC Steps – First Aid

Nauman Farooq

Dec 13, 2023

Read time : 05 mins

Table of contents

What Does DRABC Stand for?

DRABC is the acronym, and it stands for Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing and Circulation. In case of a casualty, every first aider must complete these five first aid DRABC steps in the primary survey procedure.

What is DRABC in First Aid?

When a first aider comes across any incident, they must carry out a primary survey to identify the level of injury. DRABC in first aid helps make this process easier and more effective by providing five steps to perform in chronological order. DRABC in first aid has five steps: Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing and Circulation.

Primary Survey in First Aid

Any first aid assessment starts with the primary survey that involves performing a preliminary evaluation of the situation and the victim’s needs.

Primary survey DRABC is designed to make it easier for you to determine whether the casualty’s life is in urgent danger. You can use the primary survey to identify if someone has any life-threatening injuries or illnesses requiring emergency attention.

The subsequent action you take could very likely save their life, so it’s critical that you know how to complete the procedures in the proper sequence.

first aid primary survey

DRABC Steps for Primary Survey

The abbreviation “DRABC” can be used to remember the five steps you must do to complete the primary survey. To guarantee that the most life-threatening conditions are evaluated and treated first, these must be followed in the order they are listed.

drabc steps

1. DANGER – 1st Step of DRABC for Primary Survey in First Aid

Assessing the situation for potential hazards is the first step in the primary survey. This calls on you to scan the surroundings for anything that might threaten you, the victim, or anybody else. It helps you determine if it’s safe for you to approach the victim.

Before approaching the casualty, you must attempt to make the surroundings safe if you spot any of these or other potential hazards. For instance, turn off the electricity at the source if there is a live electrical current. If this isn’t possible, you might be able to cut off the victim’s current by moving them with a material that doesn’t transmit electricity, such as wood or plastic. You must not make direct contact with the victim.

You can safely approach the casualty once the area has been secured or there are no threats. You should not approach the casualty; instead, seek emergency medical help if you cannot make the location safe.

2. RESPONSE – 2nd Step in Performing DRABC for Primary Survey

Check if the casualty is responsive. You can ask them orally whether they are alright, to look at you, or to raise their hand. Before continuing, take care of any wounds or illnesses the casualty may have if they react to you by speaking to you or moving in another way.

Try tapping the victim on the arm or giving them a light shoulder shake if they don’t reply. If the casualty still doesn’t respond, you should continue with the primary survey’s next step.

3. AIRWAY – 3rd Step in Primary Survey

The third step of the DRABC primary survey is to verify that the casualty’s airway is open and unobstructed.

If the victim is unconscious, you should:

  • Gently tilt their head back while elevating their chin, and place your hand on their forehead. Look for any obstructions in their airway visually.
  • Remove any apparent obstacles with care. If you cannot see anything, don’t put your fingers in their mouth since you can push a blockage deeper if you do.
  • Start the primary survey’s next phase right away.

If the victim is responsive, you should:

  • Look for anything that might be obstructing their airway and causing them to choke.
  • If they have an obstruction, you should encourage them to clear it on their own by coughing or using their hands.
  • For adults and kids, you can choke them with back slaps and abdominal thrusts. For infants less than a year old, you can choke them with back strikes and chest thrusts.
  • Once the obstruction has been removed, continue with the primary survey’s next phase.

4. BREATHING – 4th Step in DRABC Primary Survey

You must check if the victim’s respiration is normal. You can check their respiration by tilting their head back, watching for chest movement, and listening for breathing noises. Check for ten minutes if air is coming from their lips or nose.

If the casualty is breathing normally, please continue to the last stage of the primary survey.

Contact emergency services if the patient is unresponsive and not breathing regularly. Start performing CPR with rescue breaths if you have received practical first-aid training and are confident in your abilities. If you haven’t had hands-on instruction, perform CPR simply with your hands. If available, ask someone else to bring an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

5. CIRCULATION – 5th Step in Performing DRABC Primary Survey

In this phase, you must inspect the casualty for any major bleeding. You must try to control it if the victim is severely bleeding. If feasible, push directly on the wound with a clean cloth or a sterile dressing. Please ensure that you contact emergency services.

Stay at their side until emergency help arrives. Try to reassure them that help is on the way.

If the casualty is not bleeding and breathing regularly but is still unresponsive, you should place the casualty in the recovery position. If they vomit, keep them from choking.