EFAF – Patient Assessment


A common thread runs through all first-responder education, regardless of whether that education is for law-enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, or EMTs: learning to assess a situation is at the top of essentials. Assessing factors such as the safety of a scene, the seriousness of a situation, understanding the need for additional help and understanding the risks to the rescuer’s personal safety are all realities drummed into the heads of these professionals. While there are (of course) curricula that should be reserved for the professionals, assessing a situation is not one of them. From the moment you arrive at the scene of a traumatic or medical emergency, you will need to mentally run through the assessment checklist shown on the opposite page. Committing this checklist to memory can help calm you during what might be a very chaotic scene, and your calmness can lead to a better outcome for the patient and scene assessment is broken into three parts as shown to the right — the primary assessment, assessing the ABCs, and the secondary assessment. The primary assessment has six steps in it, which we’ll review first. On those pages, in addition to explaining what should be accomplished at each step, I’ll also present you with a scenario on the left page, which will help you to put that primary assessment step into practice. After completing the primary assessment, a rapid assessment of the patient’s ABCs, or airway, breathing and circulation will be conducted. If any of those are deficient or absent, I’ll walk you through what to do next. We’ll wrap up this chapter by discussing what a rapid trauma assessment is, and how you’d use an “emergency move” to safely move an injured patient.