Secondary Survey

This follows the primary survey (D.R.S.A.B.C.D.) and after any life-threatening bleeding has been treated.

A thorough examination of the casualty is to be completed. The more information the first aider can gather, the better equipped the first aider will be to give the most appropriate treatment. There are four tools used to assist in assessing the casualty in the secondary survey. They are signs, symptoms, history, and medical alert bracelets.


What the first aider can see, touch, hear or smell. For example, the casualty is bleeding, has vomited, has noisy breathing etc. These signs are most important to note when the casualty is unconscious and unable to communicate with the first aider.


This is the information provided by the casualty. It is what they tell the first aider, for example where they have pain, how they feel etc.


This has two components. The first is relevant past history, which may include previous illnesses or injuries that have contributed to the current situation. For example; the casualty has a heart condition and now has chest pain or a respiratory problem and is short of breath.

The second component is the current history. This includes what has happened leading up to this current situation. This information will tell you what happened and the type of injuries that could be present. For example, a casualty who falls from the roof of a house would generally have different injuries than a casualty who falls out of a chair. 

Bystanders and witnesses are often important in establishing the current history.

Further information can also be gathered using – A.M.P.L.E

  • ALLERGIES:  Does the casualty have any?
  • MEDICATIONS:   What medications does the casualty use?
  • PAST MEDICAL HISTORY:   Does the casualty have any previous illnesses/injuries?
  • LAST MEAL:   When did the casualty last eat/drink?
  • EVENT:    What events have occurred leading up to the incident?