First Aid Scenario’s – Secondary Survey. Using "SAMPLE"

When taking a Basic Life Support course or first aid class with Vancouver First Aid, candidates will gain first hand knowledge in victim recognition and treatment. The system of check, call and care, made popular by the Red Cross, is a short and straightforward method of remembering the process of  victim recognition and treatment. However, with a fully conscious victim, when the Primary Survey is complete, rescuers must determine what is the cause of the symptoms. This process is normally part of what is called “the secondary survey”. The following blog is a recommendation and is to only be used for information purposes. To obtain the proper skill set in how to use the secondary survey take a 1st Aid and CPR course. This information is also very useful for candidates preparing for first aid and CPR re-certification courses.

During the Secondary survey, rescuers must try to determine what the first aid problem is before attempting to cater to it. Calling 9-1-1 is never a bad start. However, in the 6 to possibly 1 hour time (based on location) before E.M.S. arrives, rescuers can use a simple acronym to help deduce what the problem is. “SAMPLE” and “CHAMPLE” are popular acronyms used during the secondary survey. They are very similar, however, in this post I will focus on “SAMPLE” as it seems to be more prevalent in the west coast of Canada (Vancouver, Lower Mainland). The following explains the definition of “SAMPLE”:

S  – Signs and Symptoms – By asking the question “What seems to be bothering you?” a rescuer can get the answers from his or her victim.

A – Allergies – Allergies play a significant role in first aid emergencies. Rescuers can ask “Do you have any allergies I should know about?” to determine the answer to this question. More advanced rescuers can ask questions pertaining to medical allergies.

M – Medication – A victim forgetting to take his or her medication or a victim that carries a certain type of medication (ex: Nitro for Heart Attacks), can help a rescuer determine the problem. A simple question of “Are you on any medication?” can help a rescuer obtain the information from the victim.

P – Past Pertinent History – This part of the acronym, usually confused with the E (which you’ll find out about soon), is associated with finding out whether this has happened to the victim in the past. If these symptoms are re-occuring the victim can help by telling what the cause was in the previous circumstance. A simple question of “Has this happened to you before?” can aid in retrieving this information from the victim.

L – Last Meal – Past meal time can help in determine if the victim might be suffering from a number of issues, with a likely scenario being low blood sugar. In this circumstance the victim might need to increase blood sugar. A good question to ask would be “When was your last meal” or “Did you have breakfast/lunch/dinner?”

E – Events Prior to – Not to be confused with past pertinent history, this final letter in the acronym is associated with what the victim was doing prior to the first aid emergency. An example of the how this part of the acronym apply’s can be in the role of excessive exercise to a an “out-of-shape” victim which can have a number of effects. A good question in this circumstance is “What were you doing before this happened?”

Following SAMPLE, rescuers will continue the secondary survey by completing a Head-to-Toe exam and go through another acronym, LOCPRESS. For more information on these two examinations check out the blogs on Head-to-Toe exams and LOCPRESS.

In a First Aid course with Vancouver First Aid, candidates will learn and practise to apply this acronym during first aid scenario’s. When in doubt, always call 9-1-1. Before applying this acronym take a First Aid course with Vancouver First Aid and learn its proper applications. Learn to save a life and take a course.

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