CPR: Primary Survey

The second stage of first aid and CPR rescues is the primary survey. It is in the primary survey which rescuers check the vitals of a victim. The primary assessment should not take more than 2 minutes. It is a rapid patient survey to determine the presence for any life-threatening injuries. The material posted on this page is for information purposes only

During the assessment, the only intervention performed are for life threatening injuries such as:

  • Airway obstructions or blockages.
  • Severe respiratory emergencies.
  • Open chest wound or pneumothorax.
  • Cardiac arrest.
  • Severe bleeding.

Additional Information for rescuers:

Many rescuers use a acronym called “AVPU” to determine the level of consciousness of a patient:

  • A – Alert. Is the patient aware and alert. Does he or she know the date, time, location?
  • V – Verbal. Patient is disoriented by responds when spoken to.
  • P – Pain. Patient is unable to respond but motions or responds to painful stimulus.
  • U – Unresponsive. the patient is unresponsive and does not respond to any stimuli.

In the primary survey the rescuer will follow this list of procedures.

Level of Consciousness:

The rescuer should first determine the level of consciousness of the victim. The “AVPU” acronym is a good system for determining levels of consciousness.


CPR training Surrey (CPR Primary Survey)
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is a major component of the primary survey taught via the St Mark James.

The rescuer should open the patients airway. This is the number one priority for rescuers. Without a open passage for air to enter and leave the lungs the patient may succumb to asphyxiation. Typically the rescuers should employ a “head-tilt-chin-lift” method to open the airway of a unconscious victim. However, opening or managing a airway may also aggravate other injuries for the patient, particularly victims of spinal injuries. Mishandling of a patients neck with spinal injuries may cause permanent damage to the spinal cord which can lead to a patient becoming a quadriplegic.

Rescuers that suspect a spinal injury should attempt to stabilize the spine and open the airway using a “jaw-thrust” method taught in most CPR courses. If the patient is conscious, with a suspected spinal injury  the rescuer should approach the victim from the front and identify him or herself. While preventing any movement the rescuer should attempt to stabilize the spine and treat for other injuries.

Once the head has been stabilized or if no spinal injury is suspected. The rescuer should open the airway and look, listen and feel for breathing for no more than 5 seconds. At this point, some providers require rescuers to contact EMS and provide patient information.

Chest Compression’s:

If the victim is found not to be breathing the rescuer should immediately begin chest compression’s. The rescuer should position his or her hands on the center of the patients chest and begin 2 to 2.5 inch compression’s on the patient. The 30 chest compression’s should be followed by 2 ventilation’s which are just enough to make the patients chest rise. Barrier devices should be worn and used if available.

Patients with severe respiratory distress will require assisted ventilation’s.

Breathing Patients:

If the patient is breathing the rescuer should treat the victim for shock and conduct a rapid body survey.

The primary survey in which the rescuer determines the patients condition and the scene should be completed immediately and take no longer than 2 minutes. It is in this survey where the quick thinking and knowledgeable rescuer can prevent further tragedy, injury and harm. By taking a first aid and or CPR course through a credible provider rescuers can become a vital component of the chain of survival.

In more advanced training candidates can also learn techniques of applying oxygen therapy and the use of oropharyngeal airways. These components become essential to more advanced CPR and artificial respiration techniques.

How to register for CPR and AED Training

Registration for any course that includes primary survey, CPR and AED training is very easy. We are partnered with a number of providers that offer these programs via the St Mark James throughout Canada. They are the top CPR and AED providers in Saskatoon, Regina, Toronto, Vancouver, Kelowna, Victoria, Hamilton, Thunder Bay, Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Windsor, Mississauga and Winnipeg.

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