Head-to-toe survey in paediatric first aid

Conducting a comprehensive head-to-toe survey in paediatric first aid: Ensuring child safety

Swift and effective action can be the difference between life and death in times of crisis, especially in paediatric emergencies. Understanding the significance of a thorough head-to-toe survey in paediatric first aid is paramount for ensuring the safety and well-being of children. In this blog, Rose explores this critical aspect of emergency response and childcare.

Key facts and statistics

  • Unintentional injuries are one of the leading causes of death and disability among children worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • Immediate medical attention significantly improves outcomes for paediatric emergencies, with timely interventions reducing the risk of long-term complications.

Key definitions

  • Head-to-toe survey - A systematic assessment technique employed by first aid responders to identify injuries and abnormalities in a child's body, ensuring comprehensive evaluation without overlooking any crucial signs.
  • Paediatric first aid - Specialised medical care provided to infants and children during emergencies, tailored to their unique physiological and psychological needs.

Relevant legislation, regulations, and best practice

  • The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 (HSE) outline the legal requirements for employers to provide adequate first aid training, including paediatric first aid, in workplaces involving children.
  • The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework in England mandates early years providers to have at least one paediatric first aider present at all times, emphasising the importance of child safety.

Understanding the head-to-toe survey process

  • Initial assessment - Ensure scene safety and assess the child's level of consciousness.
  • Airway and breathing - Check for airway obstructions and signs of breathing difficulties.
  • Circulation - Assess pulse rate and quality, looking for signs of shock or excessive bleeding.
  • Disability - Evaluate neurological function by assessing responsiveness and pupil reactions.
  • Exposure - Examine the child for additional injuries or medical conditions, ensuring no areas are overlooked.


  • Training and certification - Enrol in accredited paediatric first aid courses offered by organisations like the Resuscitation Council UK to gain essential skills and confidence in conducting head-to-toe surveys effectively.
  • Regular practice - Conduct simulated scenarios to refine assessment skills and enhance response times during real emergencies.
  • Emergency preparedness - Ensure first aid kits are well-stocked and easily accessible, with clear protocols for contacting emergency services.


A comprehensive head-to-toe survey is not merely a procedure; it's a critical component of paediatric first aid that can save lives. By adhering to best practices and acquiring the necessary training and skills, we can become competent and confident first responders, safeguarding the well-being of children in our communities.

Take the initiative to equip yourself with paediatric first aid training today and become a proactive advocate for child safety. Click here to explore our accredited courses and take the first step towards making a meaningful difference in emergency situations involving children.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always seek professional medical assistance in emergency situations.

About the author

Rose Mabiza

Rose has dedicated over 15 years to improving health and social care quality through practice, targeted education and training. Her extensive experience includes working with older adults, individuals with mental health conditions, and people with autism and learning disabilities.

Conducting a comprehensive head-to-toe survey in paediatric first aid - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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