How to respond in an emergency situation

Tuesday, December 13, 2005
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How you respond to an emergency is extremely important in helping someone to recover and in preventing permanent disability.

The two most important things you can do that will make a difference in an emergency situation is offer care for life-threatening problems, and call emergency personnel as quickly as possible.

It can be a frightening experience when you are faced with someone who has been injured in an accident, or when you have to deal with someone who suddenly becomes ill. When you help a casualty you must act calmly and with confidence and follow a clear plan to ensure that you are effectively managing the situation.

St John Ambulance recommends the DR ABC action plan for first aid management. DRABC stands for:

  • Danger
  • Response
  • Airway
  • Breathing
  • Circulation

The plan is a vital aid in assessing if the injured or ill person has any life-threatening conditions and if any immediate first aid is necessary.

The DRABC Action Plan
D — check for DANGER — to you — to others — to the casualty

  • Make sure that no one else gets hurt. You will not be able to help if you are also a casualty.
  • Only proceed if it is safe to do so.

R — check for RESPONSE — is the casualty conscious?

  • Gently shake the casualty and ask: "Can you hear me?" and "What is your name?"
  • If the casualty is conscious check for and manage bleeding and other injuries.
  • If the casualty is unconscious they should be turned on their side.

A — clear and open the AIRWAY; B — check BREATHING

  • If the casualty is breathing ensure that they are in a stable position on their side, manage shock, control breathing and other injuries.
  • If the casualty is not breathing start Expired Air Resuscitation - EAR (mouth to mouth).

C — check CIRCULATION — feel the pulse at the neck.

  • If pulse is present continue EAR.
  • If there is no pulse commence CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation).
  • Seek medical aid


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