What is DRSABCD?

what is drsabcd

What is DRSABCD?

Everyone understands the importance of first aid. Many of us have studied first aid at one point or another in our lives, and even may retain fuzzy memories of the compression technique for CPR but do you remember all the acronyms and lingo?

First Aid terms can be intimidating and confusing, but they don’t have to be.

The term DRSABCD comes from the ‘Basic Life Support’ chart. This tool is used to help first aiders follow these basic steps in a crisis. The acronym stands for Danger, Response, Send (for help), Airway, Breathing, CPR and Defibrillation.

We’re going to go through these steps in more detail below.


The D in DRSABCD stands for Dangers. This means when arriving to a scene as the first aider before you start to perform any first aid you should check the surrounding area for any dangers. This could be electrical dangers, weapons, other persons or slipping and tripping hazards. These are just a couple of the possible dangers but there are many more and all depend upon the situation you will be in.

Basically, before administering first aid to the patient, you need to confirm that neither the patient, yourself nor any of the bystanders will be in danger while doing that.

If it’s safe to proceed, you then move onto the next step which is Responsive.


For this step you are going to be checking the patients’ response. This includes talking to them to them, seeing if they respond verbally and are able to understand instructions.

Then you might touch them for example by squeezing their shoulder. This is done to check whether they are responsive to a pain stimulus. This method is referred to as the ‘Talk and Touch Method.’

We would suggest questions along this line;

  • What is your name?
  • Can you hear me?

And commands to check for cognitive function and physical function such as this;

  • Open your eyes.
  • Squeeze my hand and let it go.

If the patient is responsive to your questions, they are conscious, if they are breathing and have a pulse, the next step is making them comfortable and check for injuries.

If the patient is not responsive, then call 000 immediately.

Send (For help)

The next step is to call for help. There are three numbers you can use for this.

000 which we all know is the emergency line for ambulance, police and firefighting services. This number can be dialed from any fixed landline, mobile phone or pay phone.

112, this number can be used for mobile phones only.

106, this number connects to a text-based relay service for people who have a hearing or speech impairment.

If you can ask a bystander to call for you, this way you can tend to the person requiring first aid. If they can’t, you will need make the call yourself. When making the call, remain calm and speak clearly. Try to answer all the questions asked of you as best you can.  Stay on the phone with the emergency services personnel and follow any instructions they give you.

They will want to know the following.

  • Where and when the emergency happened. Prepare by knowing the exact place that you and the person requiring assistance are, including the street address and room number if needed. Provide as detailed instructions as possible to help them find you easily.
  • You might like to download the Emergency Plus app. This free app uses GPS functionality built into smart phones to help a Triple Zero (000) caller provide critical location details required to mobilise emergency services.
  • What happened. While you might not know the full details of the situation, provide as much detail as you can based on your observation and any bystander’s accounts. Was it a car accident, did they just fall or faint? How many people were involved in the situation, what is the condition of the person requiring first aid? Perform any checks they ask you to and report back on the results in real time.
  • What is being done. Explain what steps you have followed, inform them if you have administered first aid and inform them of what first aid is being provided.
  • Who you are and the number you are calling from. This is in case the call is dropped, or you lose them due to reception so they can call you back and further assist you.
  • Who the person requiring help is. If you know this or can check their ID.

If you don’t have a phone and you are alone with the casualty, then you should shout for help.


The next step is to check the airways. For this you need to gently pull down on the jaw and inspect to see if there is any foreign material or object blocking the breathing such as water, blood, sand, food.

If there is something blocking their breathing, you should turn them on their side and keep their mouth open and tilt the head downwards so as to allow the material to drain.

If it’s a large object, physically remove it with your fingers.

The best position to place a casualty who is unconscious but breathing in is the recovery position. This position ensures that if they vomit, they will not choke on their own vomit.


Check to see if they are breathing normally. For this you will need to get close to their face and listen for their breath pattern for a full 10 seconds. Position yourself so you hear and feel the air escaping their mouth and watch their chest and stomach to confirm it is rising and falling in time with your breath.

If the casualty is breathing regularly and normally then you should put them in the recovery position and check their airway after one minute. If they are still breathing normally check their airway every two minutes after that and continue to monitor their vital signs while you wait for help to arrive.

If they are unconscious and not breathing, then you should begin CPR Immediately.


CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). It is the name given to the technique of combining rescues breaths with cardiac compressions.

The process of administering CPR affects the body systems such as the brain and the heart as oxygen is pumped into the blood and then through the circulatory system. Chest compressions promote the circulation of oxygenated blood through the body, keeping the brain and other organs alive until the heart can be restarted.

CPR saves lives and increases the chances of survival for the person who is hurt until qualified medical professionals can take over.

The victim may need CPR if you can see signs of collapse, abnormal breathing, unresponsiveness or unconsciousness. If there is no response and no signs of life you should start CPR.

The initial assessment is very important, if the casualty is assessed as being in a life-or-death situation, then proper life saving techniques are urgently needed, like if when arriving at the scene as a first aider you had completed an initial assessment and determined there had been a cardiac arrest then the chain of survival – DRSABCD should be used. If the person was found unconscious and not breathing, then begin CPR immediately.

If CPR is delayed when it is needed, then the person can have brain damage or even die. Once breathing stops, the heart will cease beating soon after, within 4 minutes the chance of sustaining brain damage rises, in the 6 – 10 minute mark this increases and anything over 10 minutes irreversible brain damage is almost certain.


CPR should not be stopped until an ambulance personnel or an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) arrives. An AED is an electronic device, it’s easy to operate, portable and can be used when the casualty is having a sudden cardiac arrest. When the machine detects an abnormal heart rhythm an electrical shock is sent to the heart, and this can restore the normal heart rhythm.

All AED’s should include instructions, either in the booklet or on the screen of the AED.

As you can see from this breakdown, the importance of providing CPR and first aid in an emergency can literally mean life or death for someone. We can all benefit from first aid training and be ready to assist others in an emergency situation.

Complete your first aid training with Asset College.

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