Emergency advice

Baby primary survey:

  1. Check for Danger.
  2. Check for a Response.
  3. Open Airway.
  4. Check Breathing.
  5. Check Circulation.
  6. Treat the steps as needed.

The primary survey is a quick way to find out how to treat any life threating conditions a baby may have in order of priority. We can use DRABC to do this: Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing and Circulation. 

What to do

  1. Baby primary survey - danger - make sure the area is safe

    Danger. Before approaching the baby, always make sure the area is safe.

  2. Baby primary survey - response - check if the baby is responsive or unresponsive

    Response. Check if the baby is responsive or unresponsive. As you approach them, call their name. Gently tap the bottom of the baby’s foot to see if they respond.

    • If the baby opens their eyes, or gives another gesture, they are responsive.
    • If they do not respond to you in any way they are unresponsive and should be treated as quickly as possible.
  3. Baby primary survey - airway - check the baby's airway is open and clear

    Airway. Next, check the baby’s airway is open and clear. Open the airway by placing one hand on the baby’s forehead and very gently tilt their head back until it is flat to the sky (in a neutral position). Be careful not to tip the head back further than this.  With your other hand use a fingertip to gently lift the chin.

    • If the baby is unresponsive you need to move on to breathing as quickly as possible.
    • If they are responsive but their airway is blocked, you need to treat them for choking.
  4. Baby primary survey - breathing - check if the baby is breathing normally

    Breathing. Keeping their head correctly positioned, you now need to check if the baby is breathing normally. Place your ear above their mouth, looking down at their chest. Listen for sounds of breathing and see if you can feel their breath on your cheek. Watch to see if their chest moves. Do this for 10 seconds.

    • If the baby is breathing, but unresponsive, place them in the recovery postion and call an ambulance.
    • If the baby is not breathing normally, you need to call 999/112 and start baby CPR.
  5. Baby primary survey - circulation - check for any signs of severe bleeding

    Circulation. If you have established that they are responsive and breathing normally, check for any signs of severe bleeding.

    • If they are bleeding severely you will need to control and treat the bleeding by applying direct pressure to the wound. Call 999/112 for emergency help.

    Once you have completed your primary survey and have treated any life-threatening conditions you can move on to the secondary survey.

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