7 Words That Will Save a Life – The DRSABCD

Warning: what you read here might save a life!

When it comes to basic life support, the first few minutes of an incident are critical. DRSABCD may sound complicated but ultimately, there are two things the body needs to survive – breathing and circulation. If the casualty can’t breathe, their organs will quickly suffer due to lack of oxygen in the blood. If their heart can’t pump oxygen around the body, the brain will die rapidly. All of the DRSABCD steps are focused on breathing and circulation.

So despite what other injuries the individual may have, which could be as severe as heavy bleeding, spinal injuries or even protruding objects, restoring their ability to breathe and the heart’s pumping function must come first.

Many casualties of motor vehicle accidents perish not from their injuries, but due to their inability to breathe when their head slumps forward and cuts off the trachea. This will often kill them faster than any injuries, with a window of only minutes to act once the airway is cut off. Many people are afraid to move the casualty’s head to allow air in for fear of causing spinal injury; however spinal injuries may not kill the casualty – whereas a lack of air definitely will. If bystanders know First Aid and can restore the airway, this will more than likely keep the casualty alive until help arrives.

These fundamental steps for providing basic life support are something that anyone can and should learn and implement.

D is for Danger

Is the area safe for you, others and the casualty? Before jumping to the rescue, assess whether the situation poses a threat due to conditions such as fire, gas, wires, obstacles or even toxic fumes. After all, you won’t be able to help the casualty if you become a casualty yourself.

Take a moment to check around the casualty for any potential dangers and then proceed.

R is for Response

Is the casualty conscious? If they aren’t responding you will need to take other action, so take a few steps to test if they can respond:

  • Ask them their name

  • Gently squeeze their shoulders

If they provide any form of response such as movement, noise or opening their eyes, the casualty is conscious and should be made comfortable. You can then attend to their other injuries.

However if there is no response, move on to the next steps of DRSABCD.