First Aid Secondary Survey Checklist

A first aid secondary survey can reveal further trauma and is done once a casualty has been placed in the recovery position.

The recovery position has a major benefit if someone vomits or has blood coming from their mouth. Matter will be able to flow out and reduces the likelihood that they can actually swallow something while they’re unconscious.

What happens when people pass out is the muscles in the mouth relax and the tongue pulls back against the roof of the mouth. However, nobody can really “swallow” their tongue.

Say we have a casualty who is unconscious and we’ve placed them in the recovery position. We now do a first aid secondary survey. Put gloves on if you have them. The resurvey is a systematic check from head down to the toes.

Secondary Survey Checks

Firstly, rub your hands through their hair. Say what you are doing out loud. This is so bystanders as well as the casualty know what is going on. That way you can’t get accused of anything “inappropriate” and protects you from legal consequences. Also, hearing is the last sense to go when somebody loses consciousness.

“Relax. I’m just going to check in your hair and things to see if you’re OK”.

Check in the ears. “Okay, I’m just looking in your ears.” What you’re looking for is any clear fluid or blood. These could be indicators of a skull fracture. Anything unusual you discover as part of a first aid secondary survey should also be reported to the ambulance.

first aid secondary survey

Checking in mouth during first aid secondary survey

If you believe they may have had a facial injury, have a feel around the face very gently. Open the mouth and observe their teeth. Are the teeth aligned? If not it could indicate that they’ve had a blow to the head, a fractured jaw or broken jaw – those sorts of things.

If you have a pen torch have a look in their eyes. Do the pupils contract at the same time or is one really small and one really large? These symptoms are indicators of a head injury.

Check the arms. Now, when you check their limbs sweep along them or you’ll miss stuff. You’re feeling for any lumps, bumps or anything a bit weird. Feel lightly around their collar bone and their ribs.

Now, if you see or feel anything that’s abnormal, you have to expose it. Undo or cut away surrounding clothing with scissors from a first aid kit if you have one.

When feeling their stomach – does it feel normal? Is it rigid? Is it soft? Check their pelvis. Does it feel quite firm and in place or does it creak when you just put a little bit of pressure on it? Run your hand down over the back, feeling along their spine and along their legs.

Why Do A First Aid Secondary Survey?

You goal in the first aid secondary survey is to find evidence of further injuries and provide first aid assistance if necessary. You can also report your observations to ambulance officers when they arrive which saves valuable time.

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