First Aid Daily: 4.4 DR.ABC – Breathing

Here’s a critically important part of our Primary Survey, ‘B’, breathing. Breathing is something I haven’t had much luck with recently after a bad case of tonsillitis. However in ‘DR.ABC’, it is a vitally important step to get correct.

In essence, all we have to do is check if the casualty is breathing normally.  We do this in 3 ways.

  • LOOK- Can you see the casualties chest rise and fall?
  • LISTEN- Place your ear near their nose and mouth, can you hear normal breathing?
  • FEEL- With your ear located near the face, can you feel exhaled air? Place your hand on the casualty’s abdomen, does it feel like it’s rising and falling?

We must observe breathing for no less than 10 seconds, hoping for a minimum of 1 breath during that time period (or 6 breaths per minute minimum). In reality, a normal adult should be breathing between 12-25 times per minutes (Children & infants, depending on age can be anywhere between 20 to 60)

When we assess breathing we must be sure that we are looking for ‘One normal breath’. If the casualty’s breathing sounds forced or painful this may be agonal breathing, and not to be confused with a normal breath.

-Elliot James