ST JOHN AMBULANCE: Basic first aid skills can save lives

Train with St John Ambulance.
Train with St John Ambulance.

St John Ambulance, the nation’s leading first aid charity, has teamed up with the Littlehampton Gazette to bring you some simple, but life saving, first aid tips – this week: the primary survey.

An important part of administering first aid is safety for the first aider and the casualty.

At the scene of an accident or injury, the first aider should do a basic primary survey as follows:

Are you or the casualty in any danger?

If you have not already done so, make the situation safe and then assess the casualty.

If the casualty appears unconscious check this by shouting, “Can you hear me?”, “Open your eyes” and gently shaking their shoulders.

If there is a response and there is no further danger, leave the casualty in the position found and call for help if needed.

Treat any condition found and monitor vital signs – level of response, pulse and breathing.

Continue to monitor the casualty either until help arrives or they recover.

If there is no response, shout for help straight away.

If possible, leave the casualty in the position found and open the airway.

If this is not possible, turn the casualty onto their back and open their airway.

Open the airway by placing one hand on the casualty’s forehead and gently tilting the head back, then lift the chin using two fingers only.

This will move the casualty’s tongue away from the back of the mouth.

Look, listen and feel for no more than ten seconds to see if the casualty is breathing normally.

If the casualty is breathing normally, place them in the recovery position.

If the casualty is not breathing normally or if you are in any doubt whether breathing is normal, begin CPR.

For those looking for quick, easily accessible first aid information, the St John Ambulance app is available free on smartphones and the website ( offers demo videos, an interactive game, and lots of free advice.

For more information about first aid courses please call 0303 003 0101.