How Do You Do a Primary Survey and CPR on a Baby?

Knowing how to react in a medical emergency and giving first aid is an essential skill everyone should feel confident in using. The primary survey is a quick way to find out how to treat any life-threatening conditions a baby may have using DRABC. How do you do a primary survey and CPR on a baby?

This blog will explain how you should perform an initial assessment of an injured or ill baby.

What is the primary survey?

A primary survey is the first stage in any first aid assessment. We can use the acronym DRABC (Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing, and Circulation) to do this. It is an initial assessment of the situation and the casualty’s needs that will help you understand whether you can approach and start to attend to them without putting yourself or anyone else at risk of harm.

How to do a primary survey on a baby?

To carry out the primary survey, you should follow five steps, which can be remembered by the acronym ‘DRABC’. These must be followed as they are, in order of priority, to ensure the most life-threatening conditions are assessed and treated first.

  • Step 1 - Danger
  • Before approaching the baby, always make sure the area is safe.
  • Step 2 - Response
  • Check if the baby is responsive or unresponsive. As you approach them, call their name. Gently tap the bottom of the baby’s foot to see if they respond.
  • If the baby opens their eyes or gives another gesture, they are responsive.
  • If they do not respond to you, they are unresponsive and should be treated as quickly as possible.
  • Step 3 - Airway
  • Next, check the baby’s airway is open and transparent. Open the airway by placing one hand on the baby’s forehead and gently tilting their head back. With your other hand, use a fingertip to lift the chin gently.
  • If the baby is unresponsive, you need to move on to breathing as quickly as possible.
  • If they are responsive, but their airway is blocked, you need to clear the airway.
  • Step 4 - Breathing
  • You need to check if the baby is breathing normally. Place your ear above their mouth, looking down their body. Listen for breaths and see if you can feel their breath on your cheek. Do this for 10 seconds.
  • If the baby is unresponsive, you need to call 999/112 for emergency help and start baby CPR.
  • If the baby is responsive and breathing, move on to circulation.
  • Step 5 - Circulation
  • Once you have established that they are responsive and breathing, look and check for any signs of severe bleeding.
  • If they are bleeding severely, you will need to control and treat the bleeding by applying direct pressure to the wound. Call 999/112 for emergency help.
  • If they are unresponsive and breathing but with no bleeding, put them in the recovery position and call 999/112 for emergency help.

How do you recognise life-threatening conditions?

During the primary survey, it is vital to recognise and treat any life-threatening conditions. As a rule, a condition is life-threatening if it interferes with oxygen getting through to the body's vital organs. If the body lacks oxygen, we call this hypoxia. If the body detects low oxygen levels. the emergency hormone ADRENALINE is released - which:

  • Diverts blood away from the skin and stomach.
  • Diverts blood toward the heart, lungs and brain.
  • Increases the heart rate.
  • Increases the strength of the heartbeat (and blood pressure).
  • Open the air passages in the lungs.
  • Adrenaline creates dramatic signs and symptoms that the first aider must be able to recognise.

How to put a baby in the recovery position?

If a baby is not responding to you but breathing normally, it’s safe to put them in the recovery position to keep the airway open and prevent them from choking.

  • If the baby is not responding to you, first perform a primary survey. If this establishes that they are unresponsive but breathing, put them in the recovery position.
  • Cradle the baby in your arms, with their head, tilted downwards to prevent them from choking or inhaling vomit.
  • Call 999 or 112 for emergency help and monitor their level of response until help arrives.

How to do baby CPR (under one-year-old)?

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Knowing how to do CPR can give your baby the best chance of survival. If a child is unresponsive and not breathing normally, you still need to call 999 or 112 for emergency help and start CPR immediately.

  • Do a primary survey.
  • After performing a primary survey, if you find that the baby is unresponsive and not breathing, you should ask a helper to call 999 or 112 for emergency help while you start CPR.
  • If you're on your own, you need to give one minute of CPR before calling on a speakerphone.
  • Do not leave the baby to make the call.
  • Start CPR.
  • Place them on a firm surface and open their airway. To do this, place one hand on their forehead and gently tilt their head back. With your other hand, use your fingertip and gently lift the chin.
  • Give five initial puffs.
  • Take a breath and put your mouth around the baby’s mouth and nose to make a seal, and blow gently and steadily for up to one second. The chest should rise. Remove your mouth and watch the chest fall. That’s one rescue breath or puff.
  • Do this five times. If their chest doesn't rise, check the airway is open.
  • Doing rescue breaths may increase the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus to the rescuer or the baby. This may be mitigated by placing a face shield or pocket mask over the baby’s mouth.

You must perform rescue breaths as cardiac arrest in a baby is likely caused by a respiratory problem.

  • You will then need to give 30 pumps.
  • Put two fingers in the centre of the baby’s chest and push down a third of the depth of the chest. Release the pressure allowing the chest to come back up.
  • Repeat this 30 times at a rate of 100 to 120 pumps per minute.
  • The song ‘Nellie the Elephant’ can help you keep the correct rate.
  • After 30 pumps, open the airway and give two puffs. Keep alternating 30 pumps with two breaths (30:2) until:
  • Emergency help arrives and takes over.
  • The baby starts showing signs of life and begins to breathe normally.

If the baby shows signs of becoming responsive, such as coughing, opening their eyes, making a noise, or starting to breathe normally, put them in the recovery position. Monitor their level of response and prepare to give CPR again if necessary.

Where can I find online training courses for primary survey and CPR on a baby?

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 more about primary survey and CPR on a baby training courses.

Online training courses and qualifications for primary survey and CPR on a baby

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How Do You Do a Primary Survey and CPR on a Baby? - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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