First Aid Acronyms – DRABC

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There are certain accidents or illnesses that require urgent care. When coming face to face with someone who needs help, action must be taken immediately in order preserve life and prevent the condition from worsening.

DRABC, also referred to as a ‘primary survey’ is the initial steps you take to identify the severity of the condition, and the treatment the casualty will require. It also helps you decide whether or not they require further medical attention and if you need to call an ambulance.

What is DRABC (or DR ABC)?


First, check that it is safe to approach the casualty. Do not put yourself or anyone else in risk by entering a situation which could be dangerous. For example, if the casualty has been involved in an incident involving traffic and vehicles then clear the road and make sure there is no risk of you being involved in an accident whilst trying to provide first aid.


You need to identify whether the casualty is responsive or unresponsive. Try and start a discussion with the casualty and ask them what has happened to them. If you do not get any response then they need to be treated as soon as possible.

Use the AVPU method to scale the level of the response the casualty is giving you:

  • > Alert – are they moving or talking? If not proceed to V
  • > Voice – speak to them clearly and loudly to see if they respond. If you get no response, proceed to P
  • > Place – place your hands on their collarbone and carefully but firmly shake them. Keep talking to them and check to see whether they are showing that they are in pain. If they are showing no signs of responsiveness proceed to U
  • > Unresponsive – at this point you can assume that the casualty is unresponsive


Check that the airway is open and clear. To do this you need to place the casualty on their back and tilt their head backwards. Place your hand on the chin and forehead and lightly tip their head back. Open their mouth to open their airways. If they are unresponsive then move onto the next stage as soon as possible.


Check if the casualty is breathing normally. Place your ear to their mouth and wait for 10 seconds to see if their chest moves. If they are unresponsive and not moving then call an ambulance immediately and begin CPR. If they are responsive and breathing move onto the next stage.


Once you have established they are breathing, you need to check for bleeding. If the casualty is bleeding severely you will need to control and treat the bleeding by applying pressure to the wound. If they are unresponsive but with no bleeding, put them into the recovery position and call 999.

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Interested in undertaking one of our First Aid Courses in Wirral? Call us today on 0151 343 0588 to learn more. Alternatively, you can email us at and a member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

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