ASHI and MEDIC First Aid Blog

If an individual appears to be injured, it’s important to complete an assessment of the scene and the person. This allows you to quickly identify life-threatening conditions and other medical problems to ensure the person receives timely medical care.

Here’s how to perform a first aid assessment for a responsive person.


In any emergency situation, make sure the area is safe for you and the victim, and then take standard precautions to minimize your exposure to infection. This includes wearing gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE).

Start by assessing the person’s responsiveness and breathing, active EMS and send someone to get the first aid kit and an AED.

If the person is breathing and responsive, ask for consent to help the person and quickly assess for life-threatening conditions.

While waiting for EMS, consider performing a secondary assessment to gather more information.

  • Ask the person to describe the problem. You may need to ask about their symptoms to help determine what might be going on.

  • Look for medical identification jewelry. If the person is unable to speak or becomes unresponsive, medical jewelry can provide vital information. Look for a small emblem or a tag worn on a bracelet or necklace containing inscriptions related to diabetes, epilepsy, food or drug allergies, and bleeding disorders.

  • Visually assess the person from head to toe. Use the acronym DOTS to guide you. Look for Deformities and Open injuries. Ask about Tenderness S Provide appropriate first aid for any identified problems.

  • Try to identify the mechanism of injury. This is the way in which the person sustained the injury. For example, they might have been in a bicycle crash, had an environmental exposure or been hit by a falling object in the workplace. This can help you predict the potential presence and severity of injuries.

Continue to reassess scene safety, responsiveness, breathing and the effectiveness of provided first aid until someone with more advanced training takes over or EMS arrives.

Remember to relay any information you’ve gathered throughout your assessments.


Do you know how to treat severe, life-threatening bleeding? How should you treat a person with a possible head, neck or spinal injury? Should you remove an impaled object?

First aid training can prepare you for all of these emergency scenarios and many more. To take a First Aid class near you, contact your local HSI training center today!