What is the secondary survey in first aid?

Would you know what to do if someone collapsed? Sadly, most people wouldn’t. Many of us just call 999, while some even panic and don’t call 999 at all consequently putting the casualty's life at risk.

In this article, we will talk about how to perform a secondary survey and what it involves to prevent the situation from worsening.

What is the secondary survey in first aid?

The secondary survey gives a systematic way to prioritise urgent treatment and then thoroughly assess the casualty.

When the primary survey is completed and you have dealt with any life-threatening conditions, it is safe to examine the casualty head to toe, checking for other injuries or illnesses methodically.

    How is the secondary survey carried out?

    The secondary survey assessment can be carried out on a conscious or unconscious casualty. If the casualty is unconscious, never be distracted from monitoring and protecting their airway, breathing and circulation - these are the primary survey priorities to keep the casualty alive until emergency help arrives.

    To carry out a secondary survey, it is important to start by considering the history, signs and symptoms.

    Why is it important to check the history during the secondary survey?

    Checking the history provides us with background information that may help us to care for the casualty.

    Therefore, it is essential to ask the following questions:

    • What happened?
    • What is the casualty's medical history?
    • Do they have allergies?
    • What medication do they take?
    • When did they last eat?
    • What forces were involved in the accident and what are the worst injuries this could have caused? (TIP: treat for the worst)

    What signs should I look for when undertaking a secondary survey?

    During the secondary survey, always consider the following clues:

    • Pale skin
    • Cyanosis
    • Flushed skin
    • Fast, slow, weak or irregular pulse
    • Abnormal breathing
    • Smell, such as alcohol
    • Swelling and/or deformity.

    Which symptoms should I look out for in the secondary survey?

    If the casualty is conscious, ask the following questions:

    • Do they have pain?
    • Where is it?
    • Can they describe it?
    • Does anything make it worse or better?
    • When did it start?
    • How severe is it?

    Also ask if the casualty has any other feelings, such as:

    • Sickness
    • Dizziness
    • Feeling hot or cold
    • Hunger or thirst.

    Why is a head to toe check important?

    After checking the initial signs, it is essential to check the casualty from head to toe (head to toe assessment). Protect their dignity and ask permission if possible. Wear disposable gloves and do not move them more than necessary.

    You can use the acronym SAMPLE to systematically complete the head to toe assessment.


    ‘SAMPLE’ can be used to remember some important things to ask the casualty, as follows:

    Where can I find secondary survey in first aid training courses and qualifications?

    The Mandatory Training Group is the leading UK provider of accredited statutory and mandatory training courses for all sectors, including health and social care, education, local government, private companies, charitable and third sector organisations.

    Alternatively, you can contact our helpful Support Team byclicking hereto tell us your secondary survey in first aid training courses and qualifications.

    Training courses and qualifications for secondary survey in first aid

    What our clients say...

    Frequently asked questions about secondary survey in first aid?

    Here at The Mandatory Training Group, we receive many questions about the qualifications for secondary survey in first aid. We have selected a few of these questions and answered them below.

    Contact us

    Still have some questions which you would like us to help you with?

    Trauma Secondary assessment - online course - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

    What is the secondary survey in first aid? - The Mandatory Training Group UK.

    Just added to your wishlist:
    My Wishlist
    You've just added this product to the cart:
    Go to Basket




    Sold Out