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Danger: to you or the casualty

Response: Shake and ask loudly if they can hear you, shout for help if needed.

Airway: Is it clear and open

Breathing: Are they breathing normally


First aid is about being the first person on the scene when an accident has happened and dealing with it as best you can with whatever you have to hand, often only yourself. Dealing with an unconscious casualty, applying DRAB and giving CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) are a big part of a first aid training course. Understanding DRAB helps you understand the process you need to follow.


If you come across an unconscious casualty you first need to assess for danger. Before approaching the casualty stop, look around you, can you see any danger to yourself, the casualty or any bystanders; for example if it is a car accident be sure you are not going to get hit. If all is clear approach the casualty.


Approach the casualty saying “you are there to help and that you are a first aider”, even if the casualty appears unconscious. When casualty sinks into unconsciousness they can sometimes still hear and will be very frightened, so speaking to them will offer reassurance. Shake their shoulders and ask loudly ‘are you alright’. You are looking for some kind of response and at the same time you can call for help if you need it.  If someone else is around ask them to ring 999. If you get no response you need to work out if their airway is clear.


such as false teeth, vomit or anything that might be obstructing the airway. If there is something there, attempt to remove it. You now need to work out if the casualty is breathing.


Put one hand on the casualty’s forehead and one under their chin and tilt the head back, open their mouth and put your ear to it, look down the casualty towards their stomach so you can see the stomach rising and falling, and count 10 seconds.  In 10 seconds you should hear and feel 3 breaths. This means the casualty is breathing. In the first few minutes after cardiac arrest a casualty may be barely breathing, or taking infrequent slow and noisy gasps. Do not confuse this with normal breathing, if you are in any doubt, prepare to start CPR.

Now all your first aid training really comes into play.

Breathing Casualty

If your casualty is breathing but unconscious you need to make sure help is coming so if you have not already done it call 999. Whilst waiting for the emergency services you can perform a secondary survey on the patient to see if you work out what is wrong with them. If you need to, apply further first aid then pass this information on to the emergency services.  How to do a secondary survey will be shown to you on your first aid training course.

Keep Reassuring

Stay with the patient until help comes. Talk to them, and reassure them even if they are unconscious.  If for any reason you have to leave them, put them into the recovery position, this will be shown to you on your first aid course. Applying DRAB and using early CPR before the ambulance arrives has been proven to double or triple the chances of survival.  If the heart has been kept oxygenated, it’s easier to restart it, it is unlikely that you will bring someone round but you will keep oxygen pumping around the body.  You buy them time so that when the emergency services arrive and use a defibrillator they have a higher chance of survival.  If you have access to a defibrillator, use it. You will learn to use a defibrillator on a first aid course.

Start chest compressions at a rate of 100 a minute, press down on the breastbone to a depth of 5-6 cm. If you do not wish to apply rescue breaths then keep going with compressions.  Rescue breath however are worth doing if you feel able to as they add more oxygen to the casualty. If doing breaths apply 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths as taught to you on your first aid course and keep going until help arrives or you can no longer keep going or the casualty comes around.

Drab saves lives!



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