First aid basics and DRSABCD (2023)

First Aid


Read the full fact sheet
  • Some knowledge of basic first aid could mean the difference between life and death.
  • Consider doing a first aid course, so that you will be able to manage if someone is injured or becomes ill.
  • CPR is a life-saving skill that everyone should learn.
  • Keep a range of first aid kits handy at home, in the car and at work.
(Video) First Aid - DRSABCD

On this page

  • Learn the first aid method of DRSABCD
  • Where to learn first aid and CPR
  • Infection control when performing CPR
  • First aid for a person choking
  • First aid for a medication or drug overdose
  • First aid kit
  • Reducing the risk of infected wounds during first aid
  • Using bandages during first aid
  • Where to get help

Learning basic first aid techniques can help you cope with an emergency. You may be able to keep a person breathing, reduce their pain or minimise the consequences of injury or sudden illness until an ambulance arrives. This could mean the difference between life and death for them.

It is a good idea to take a first aid course so that you can recognise an emergency and give basic first aid until professional help arrives.

Learn the first aid method of DRSABCD

First aid is as easy as ABC – airway, breathing and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). In any situation, apply the DRSABCD Action Plan.

DRSABCD stands for:

  • Danger – always check the danger to you, any bystanders and then the injured or ill person. Make sure you do not put yourself in danger when going to the assistance of another person.
  • Response – is the person conscious? Do they respond when you talk to them, touch their hands or squeeze their shoulder?
  • Send for help – call triple zero (000). Don’t forget to answer the questions asked by the operator.
  • Airway – Is the person’s airway clear? Is the person breathing?
  • If the person is responding, they are conscious and their airway is clear, assess how you can help them with any injury.
  • If the person is not responding and they are unconscious, you need to check their airway by opening their mouth and having a look inside. If their mouth is clear, tilt their head gently back (by lifting their chin) and check for breathing. If the mouth is not clear, place the person on their side, open their mouth and clear the contents, then tilt the head back and check for breathing.
  • Breathing – check for breathing by looking for chest movements (up and down). Listen by putting your ear near to their mouth and nose. Feel for breathing by putting your hand on the lower part of their chest. If the person is unconscious but breathing, turn them onto their side, carefully ensuring that you keep their head, neck and spine in alignment. Monitor their breathing until you hand over to the ambulance officers.
  • CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) – if an adult is unconscious and not breathing, make sure they are flat on their back and then place the heel of one hand in the centre of their chest and your other hand on top. Press down firmly and smoothly (compressing to one third of their chest depth) 30 times. Give two breaths. To get the breath in, tilt their head back gently by lifting their chin. Pinch their nostrils closed, place your open mouth firmly over their open mouth and blow firmly into their mouth. Keep going with the 30 compressions and two breaths at the speed of approximately five repeats in two minutes until you hand over to the ambulance officers or another trained person, or until the person you are resuscitating responds. The method for CPR for children under eight and babies is very similar and you can learn these skills in a CPR course.
  • Defibrillator – for unconscious adults who are not breathing, apply an automated external defibrillator (AED) if one is available. They are available in many public places, clubs and organisations. An AED is a machine that delivers an electrical shock to cancel any irregular heart beat (arrhythmia), in an effort get the normal heart beating to re-establish itself. The devices are very simple to operate. Just follow the instructions and pictures on the machine, and on the package of the pads, as well as the voice prompts. If the person responds to defibrillation, turn them onto their side and tilt their head to maintain their airway. Some AEDs may not be suitable for children.

Where to learn first aid and CPR

You can attend a CPR training course or first aid course with a non-profit organisation such as St John Ambulance Australia (Victoria), Australian Red Cross and Life Saving Victoria. St John also runs awareness programs in schools and the community.

There is no age limit to learning CPR. The ability to carry out CPR is only limited by the physical capabilities of the person carrying out the procedure.

In some schools, CPR is a module of the first aid course taught to Year 9 students. CPR is a life skill that everyone should learn. Remember that doing some CPR in an emergency is better than doing nothing.

Infection control when performing CPR

To avoid contact with potentially infectious bodily fluids such as blood or saliva, everyone with training in resuscitation is advised to carry a resuscitation mask in their purse, wallet or first aid kit. This helps take the worry of infection out of helping someone in a life-threatening situation. These masks are available from first aid providers or from your pharmacy.

(Video) Basic Life Support Two First Aiders DRSABCD

First aid for a person choking

Maintaining a clear airway is always the priority to make sure the person can keep breathing. You might need to roll them onto their side, but spinal injury is always a possibility in anyone involved in an accident. There are ways of placing an injured person on their side so that there is very little movement to their spine. You can learn these skills in a first aid course.

First aid for a medication or drug overdose

Medications are very unpredictable. Many medications or illicit drugs have dangerous side effects, particularly if they are mixed together or taken with alcohol.

If you are aware or suspect that someone you have found has overdosed on drugs or medications, do not leave them to ‘sleep it off’. A doctor or ambulance paramedic should assess any person who overdoses on any medication.

It is very important that you call triple zero (000) if you are aware or suspect that someone you have found has overdosed on drugs or medications, as many overdoses cause death.

First aid kit

As well as knowing some basic first aid techniques, it is important that households and workplaces have a first aid kit that meets their needs and is well organised, fully stocked and readily available at all times.

The contents should be appropriate to cope with a range of emergency situations, depending on the setting. It’s a good idea to have a number of kits handy in different places, such as in the home, car or office.

First aid kits are available for purchase from a variety of providers, including St John Ambulance Australia (Victoria) or your local pharmacy. Specialty kits are also available to meet specific needs.

Reducing the risk of infected wounds during first aid

Open wounds are prone to infection. Suggestions to reduce the risk of infection include:

  • Wash your hands if possible before managing the wound. You could also use an antibacterial hand sanitiser.
  • Put on the disposable gloves provided in your first aid kit.
  • Try to avoid breathing or coughing over the wound.
  • Cleaning of the wound depends on the type and severity of the wound, including the severity of the bleeding. You may just clean around the wound.
  • Cover the wound with a sterile dressing. Try not to touch the dressing’s surface before applying it to the wound.
  • Seek medical advice or call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

In an emergency, these suggestions may not be practical. If the injured person is bleeding heavily, don’t waste time. For example, cleaning the wound might dislodge a blood clot and make the wound bleed again or bleed more.

Immediately apply pressure to a heavily bleeding wound (or around the wound if there is an embedded object), and apply a bandage when the bleeding has slowed down or stopped. Call triple zero (000) immediately.

Using bandages during first aid

This information is of a general nature only and should not be considered a replacement for proper first aid training.

General suggestions include:

  • The injured person should be sitting or lying down. Position yourself in front of the person on their injured side.
  • Make sure their injured body part is supported in position before you start to bandage it.
  • If the injured person can help by holding the padding in place, wrap the ‘tail’ of the bandage one full turn around the limb, so that the bandage is anchored.
  • If there is no assistance, wrap the ‘tail’ of the bandage directly around the padding over the wound.
  • Bandage up the limb, making sure each turn overlaps the turn before. Alternatively, you can bandage in a ‘figure eight’ fashion.
  • Make sure the bandage isn’t too tight so you don’t reduce blood flow to the extremities (hands and feet). Check by pressing on a fingernail or toenail of the injured limb – if the pink colour returns within a couple of seconds, the bandage isn’t affecting the person’s circulation. If the nail remains white for some time, loosen the bandage. Keep checking and adjusting the bandage, especially if swelling is a problem.

Making an arm sling

After being bandaged, an injured forearm or wrist may require an arm sling to lift the arm and keep it from moving. Steps include:

  • Arrange the person’s arm in a ‘V’ so that it is held in front of their body and bent at the elbow, with the hand resting in the hollow where the collarbone meets the shoulder.
  • Open a triangular bandage and place it on top of the injured arm. The longest edge needs to be lengthwise along the person’s body and the point of the bandage should be towards the person’s elbow on their injured side. You only need enough material to tie a knot at the fingertip end.
  • Create a cradle (hammock) around the injured arm by folding the upper half of the long edge under the injured arm.
  • Gently gather the material together at the elbow and pull it tight without pulling the bandage off the injured arm. Twist the material into a long spiral.
  • Bring the long spiral around and then up the person’s back.
  • Tie the two ends together firmly at the person’s fingertips.

Where to get help

  • In an emergency, always call triple zero (000)
  • Your doctor
  • The emergency department of your nearest hospital
  • St John Ambulance Australia (Victoria) for first aid and CPR courses Tel. 1300 360 455
  • Australian Red Cross for first aid and CPR courses Tel. 1300 367 428

(Video) How to do the Primary Survey - First Aid Training - St John Ambulance

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First aid basics and DRSABCD (2)

This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:

First aid basics and DRSABCD (4)

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  • Allergic reactions emergency first aid Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) and asthma attacks need urgent emergency first aid. In an emergency, always call triple zero (000).
(Video) 001 CPR Online DRSABCD

Content disclaimer

Content on this website is provided for information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances. The State of Victoria and the Department of Healthshall not bear any liability for reliance by any user on the materials contained on this website.

Reviewed on: 31-08-2014

(Video) DRSABCD Action Plan - TAFE NSW Training Video


What is Drsabcd in first aid? ›

DRSABCD stands for Danger, Response, Send, Airway, Breathing, CPR, Defibrillation.

What are the 4 steps of first aid response? ›

We can use DRABC to do this: Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing and Circulation.

What exactly is the Drsabcd action plan how should it be done? ›

DRSABCD is an acronym/mnemonic taught on first aid courses to help you have an action plan on how to respond in a medical emergency. It >stands for Danger, Response, Send for help, Airway, Breathing, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and Defibrillation.

What does the C stand for in Drabcd? ›

DRABC stands for Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing and Circulation.

What are the 7 stages of the DRS ABCD Action Plan? ›

If the patient's breathing is not normal start CPR.
  • place patient in recovery position.
  • monitor breathing.
  • manage injuries.
  • treat for shock.

What are the 7 steps of first aid? ›

The 7 Steps of Basic First Aid
  • Step 1: Danger.
  • Step 2: Response.
  • Step 3: Send for help.
  • Step 4: Airway.
  • Step 5: Breathing.
  • Step 6: CPR.
  • Step 7: Defibrillator.

What are the 3 P's for first aid? ›

The PPP acronym in first aid stands for: Preserve Life. Prevent Deterioration. Promote Recovery.

What are the 3 C's of emergency first aid? ›

Training your brain before you find yourself in a high-pressure situation may help you save a life or potentially help someone in pain. There are three basic C's to remember—check, call, and care. When it comes to first aid, there are three P's to remember—preserve life, prevent deterioration, and promote recovery.

What are the 4 C's of first aid? ›

The PedFACTs course also covers the “4Cs of Pediatric First Aid” help focus providers on the steps they need to take to safely manage emergencies: Check, Call, Care, and Complete.

How would you check a patient for a response Drsabcd? ›

First response: Remember DRS ABCD
  1. Danger. Check for the safety of yourself, the patient and bystanders.
  2. Response. Check for response, tap the patient, gently shake and shout.
  3. Send for Help. Phone 111 and ask for an ambulance. ...
  4. Airway. Open airway, tilt head back.
  5. Breathing. ...
  6. CPR. ...
  7. Defibrillate.

How do you do CPR on Drsabcd? ›

First aid is as easy as ABC – airway, breathing and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
DRSABCD stands for:
  1. Danger – always check the danger to you, any bystanders and then the injured or ill person. ...
  2. Response – is the person conscious? ...
  3. Send for help – call triple zero (000). ...
  4. Airway – Is the person's airway clear?

What is the importance of knowing Drsabcd action plan? ›

The DRSABCD action plan plays a vital part in assessing whether a patient has any life-threatening conditions and if any immediate first aid is necessary. This plan is taught in first aid training courses and brings a structured method to attending the scene of an accident.

What is CPR ratio? ›

Give two breaths after every 30 chest compressions. If two people are performing CPR , give one to two breaths after every 15 chest compressions. Continue CPR until you see signs of life or until medical personnel arrive.

How many back blows if a person is choking? ›

Bend them forwards and give up to 5 back blows to try and dislodge the blockage. Hit them firmly on their back with the heel of your hand between the shoulder blades. Hitting them on their back creates a strong vibration and pressure in the airway, which is often enough to dislodge the blockage.

When Should CPR be stopped? ›

Once you begin CPR, do not stop except in one of these situations:
  1. You see an obvious sign of life, such as breathing.
  2. An AED is available and ready to use.
  3. Another trained responder or EMS personnel take over.
  4. You are too exhausted to continue.
  5. The scene becomes unsafe.

What are the 5 key steps of first aid? ›

DRABC is an acronym to describe the procedures used by first aiders when providing first aid:
  • D for Danger – Assess the situation.
  • R for Response – Check consciousness, check on vital signs.
  • A for Airway – Open airway.
  • B for Breathing – Check respiration rates.
  • C for Circulation – Give chest compressions.

What is the 3 final emergency action steps? ›

To take appropriate actions in any emergency, follow the three basic emergency action steps — Check-Call-Care. Check the scene and the victim. Call the local emergency number to activate the EMS system. Ask a conscious victim's permission to provide care.

What are the 8 steps to developing an action plan? ›

How to develop an action plan
  • Set objectives. ...
  • Assess the objectives. ...
  • Identify action required to achieve the objective. ...
  • Work out how to evaluate the activity. ...
  • Agree a time frame. ...
  • Assess the action plan. ...
  • Finalise the action plan.

What are the 8 golden rules of first aid? ›

The golden rules of First Aid
  • Use a systematic approach in all medical emergencies.
  • Identify and avoid risks to yourself, the person affected and third parties.
  • Request support early (first aiders, AED, emergency number 144).
  • Be “suspicious” and primarily assume it is something serious.

What is the #1 rule of first aid? ›

Always protect yourself first – never put yourself at risk. Only move them if leaving them would cause them more harm. If you can't make an area safe, call 999 or 112 for emergency help.

How many cycles per minute is CPR? ›

Keeping your hands on their chest, release the compression and allow their chest to return to its original position. Repeat these compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 times a minute until an ambulance arrives or for as long as you can.

What are the 4 primary aims of first aid? ›

preserve life. prevent illness or injury from becoming worse. relieve pain, if possible. promote recovery.

What are 3 ways to check for breathing? ›

  1. look to see if their chest is rising and falling.
  2. listen over their mouth and nose for breathing sounds.
  3. feel their breath against your cheek for 10 seconds.

What are 5 things you should do once a victim of shock of lying down? ›

Seek emergency medical care

Keep the person still and don't move him or her unless necessary. Begin CPR if the person shows no signs of life, such as not breathing, coughing or moving. Loosen tight clothing and, if needed, cover the person with a blanket to prevent chilling. Don't let the person eat or drink anything.

What are the ABCs in an emergency? ›

The Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, Exposure (ABCDE) approach is a systematic approach to the immediate assessment and treatment of critically ill or injured patients.

What are the 4 signs we assess to identify an emergency? ›

According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, the following are warning signs of a medical emergency:
  • Bleeding that will not stop.
  • Breathing problems (difficulty breathing, shortness of breath)
  • Change in mental status (such as unusual behavior, confusion, difficulty arousing)
  • Chest pain.
  • Choking.

What is the most effective method in identifying a response in the casualty? ›

The best method for assessing a casualty in an emergency situation is to perform a quick primary survey followed by a more thorough secondary survey. A primary survey is a quick assessment of a casualty to find and correct any life-threatening issues.

Do you perform CPR if there is a pulse? ›

The physicians and scientists at the Sarver Heart Center, have found that the old saying "Never perform CPR on beating heart" is not valid. According to these professionals, the chances that a bystander could harm a person by pressing on their chest are slim to none, even if the heart is working normally.

What are the 7 steps of CPR child? ›

Child and baby CPR steps
  1. Ensure the area is safe. Check for hazards, such as electrical equipment or traffic.
  2. Check your child's responsiveness. ...
  3. Check their breathing. ...
  4. Assess the circulation (signs of life) ...
  5. Chest compressions: general guidance. ...
  6. Continue resuscitation until.

Are breaths still used in CPR? ›

The short answer is simply, “Yes.” This is especially true when a lack of oxygen was the original cause of cardiac arrest in the first place. The American Heart Association recommends providing rescue breathing with compressions in the event of: Drowning. Opioid overdose.

Should Drsabcd be used in all first aid situations? ›

The St John DRSABCD Action Plan is a vital aid in assessing whether a patient has any life-threatening conditions and if any immediate first aid is necessary. This information is NOT a substitute for first aid training. St John recommends that everyone is trained in first aid.

What are the main aims of first aid and describe these aims in brief? ›

The basic objectives of First Aid are: • to give immediate care. • to protect the casualty from further harm. • to relieve pain. • to promote recovery. The recovery is promoted as the heart rate goes down, which in turn prevents blood loss from the victim's body.

Why we need to learn about first aid procedure in terms of accident? ›

It gives you tools to prevent the situation from becoming worse. In some situations if a patient doesn't receive basic first aid care immediately their situation will deteriorate – often rapidly. By being able to provide basic care you can stabilize a patient until emergency medical services arrives.

Is child CPR 15 or 30 compressions? ›

Two-person CPR for the adult victim will be 30 compressions to 2 breaths. Two-person CPR ratio for the child and infant will be 15 compressions to 2 breaths.

Is it 15 or 30 compressions for CPR? ›

CPR ratio for one-person CPR is 30 compressions to 2 breaths ▪ Single rescuer: use 2 fingers, 2 thumb-encircling technique or the heel of 1 hand. After each compression, allow complete chest recoil. the person becomes responsive.

What does 30 to 2 mean in CPR? ›

30:2 CPR consists of 3 cycles of standard CPR with each cycle consisting of 30 chest compressions with a pause for 2 ventilations at a compression:ventilation ratio of 30:2. CCC consists of a series of three cycles of continuous chest compressions without pauses for ventilation.

What are the 2 types of choking? ›

There are two main types of choking. One is known as a partial airway obstruction or mild choking, and the other is a complete airway obstruction, or severe choking.

What are 3 signs of a choking victim? ›

Watch for these signs of choking:
  • One or both hands clutched to the throat.
  • A look of panic, shock or confusion.
  • Inability to talk.
  • Strained or noisy breathing.
  • Squeaky sounds when trying to breathe.
  • Cough, which may either be weak or forceful.
  • Skin, lips and nails that change color turning blue or gray.
  • Loss of consciousness.

What are 3 common causes of choking? ›

Common Causes of Choking
  • eating or drinking too quickly.
  • swallowing food before it has been sufficiently chewed.
  • swallowing small bones or objects.
  • inhaling small objects.
20 Jun 2019

Do you remove a bra during CPR? ›

If the person is unresponsive or not breathing normally, proceed with cardiac arrest rescue measures. Remove all clothing from the patient's chest – this includes swimsuits, bras, sports bras, tank tops, and regular tops. If you need to, you can cut through clothing with the shears included in an AED's response kit.

Do you block nose during CPR? ›

You need to block the nose by pinching the soft part of the nose, or pushing your cheek against the nose. Blow into the patient's mouth until you see the chest rise. Remove your mouth, take a fresh breath, and blow again into the patient's mouth.

Is it OK to break ribs during CPR? ›

The first thing we want to say is that yes, breaking a rib is always disconcerting, but no, you don't need to stop performing CPR if you feel a rib break. Yes, we are saying that it is perfectly normal though it does not happen under all circumstances.

What is first aid short answer 4? ›

First aid is the assistance given to any person suffering a sudden illness or injury, with care provided to preserve life, prevent the condition from worsening, or to promote recovery.

What is first aid * Your answer? ›

What is first aid? First aid is emergency care given immediately to an injured person. The purpose of first aid is to minimize injury and future disability. In serious cases, first aid may be necessary to keep the victim alive.

What are the 5 main of first aid? ›

The aims of first aid include preserving life, preventing injury from getting worse, aiding recovery, relieving pain, and protecting the unconscious.

What are the 3 emergency action steps? ›

Prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery are the five steps of Emergency Management.
  1. Prevention. Actions taken to avoid an incident. ...
  2. Mitigation. ...
  3. Preparedness. ...
  4. Response. ...
  5. Recovery.

What is the 3 importance of first aid explain? ›

In the time it takes for more advanced care to arrive, first aid aims to prevent medical conditions from deteriorating, help relieve pain, and provide reassurance.

What are the 2 main priorities of life first aid? ›

The 3 Priorities of First Aid:
  • P – Preserve life.
  • P – Prevent worsening.
  • P – Promote recovery.
  • Preserve life – The first aider must look after themselves. ...
  • Prevent worsening – Whatever has happened to the casualty, don't make it any worse. ...
  • Promote recovery – Don't forget the basics.


1. DRSABCD action plan explained! | Education | St John WA
(St John WA)
2. First Aid - Introducing DRSABCD - OHS Training Video
(Training Snippets)
3. DRSABCD First Aid Australia
(First Aid Pro)
4. First aid priority action plan
(Premium Health)
5. DRSABCD Action Plan | Australia Wide First Aid
(Australia Wide First Aid)
6. Basic Life Support Single First Aider DRSABCD
(Australian Training Institute)


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