The ABC’s in First Aid

First Aid is very essential in times when injuries and accidents happen. It has a very big impact on the condition of the injured person when he or she has received a first aid treatment or not. It is considered to be the lifeline during emergency situations. The first thing that you have to keep in mind when doing first aid is the simple ABC. A stands for airway, B for breathing and C for circulation.


Airway is the first priority when attending to a person who has been injured or unconscious. To check for airway, for a conscious person, it is easy to determine if the airway is obstructed such as in choking. A person whose airway is not blocked can respond verbally to a question such as “are you ok?” . If a person cannot answer, chances are the airways are blocked and it can be verified with a question “are you choking?” if the person nods, then the airway is blocked and first aid should be done to clear the airway.

For an unconscious person, it is a little more difficult since the person cannot respond to any verbal stimuli. To check for airway obstruction is to do an ocular inspection by looking through the person’s mouth for any object blocking the airway. The tongue must be inspected if it has fallen at the back of the mouth which may cause airway obstruction.

Loss of air in a patient for 5 minutes impedes circulation of oxygen into the brain and may cause serious brain damage. Thus, the first 5 minutes after an injury has occurred is very crucial.


After checking and stabilizing the airway, breathing may now be checked. For people whose airway has not been obstructed, breathing is less likely to be a problem. However, for persons who have had an obstructed airway, it is important to check if the person is able to breathe on his or her own or might need assistance.

To check for breathing, putting the ear close to the mouth to listen for breathing and to feel for air coming out of it may be done. Another way is to see the rising and falling of the chest which indicates breathing.


The third important thing in first aid is to verify and ensure circulation. Signs than can help determine the absence of circulation is the absence of a pulse. Thus, it is the first thing to be done. Moreover, ocular inspection would indicate a blue-purple coloration of the lips or even the face which is called cyanosis. Skin is also cold and damp upon touching. Once this is noticed, cardiopulmonary resuscitation may be done by doing chest compressions until help arrives.

Other things to take note in emergency situations before starting first aid are to ensure that the environment is safe. Otherwise, the victim should be transferred to a safer place. Safety of the victim and the rescuer is always the priority to prevent further injury. Another thing is to make sure that help is called upon as soon as the emergency situation is discovered. After establishing the ABC’s other concerns may now be addressed such as treating wounds, stopping bleeding or even bringing the victim into a health facility.