First Aid Refresher – Secondary Survey

Remember – The aim of the primary survey is to detect and treat immediately life threatening problems. The secondary survey aims to detect and treat ‘everything else’. Therefore the secondary survey should not be started until the primary survey is complete, repeated, and the patient as stable as possible.

Vital Signs – this will have been picked up on the primary survey – but you should be constantly checking ABC obtaining accurate figures for each component. This should be done and recorded at least every 10-15 minutes on a stable patient, more frequently if there is cause for concern.

Jane Rawlings - Resuscitation

  • Airway
  • Breathing
  • Circulation – Pulse rate/strength (60-80/min)
  • Disability – AVPU


It is impossible to give rules for every situation, but certain trends and findings are always concerning:

  • Airway becoming noisy
  • Breathing becoming more rapid
  • Pulse increasing in rate/decreasing in strength
  • Blood pressure dropping
  • Level of consciousness below A or dropping
  • Pupils not equal, or are sluggish, or are unreactive