+ Table of Contents

  1. Contributors
  2. Objectives
  3. Chapter 1: The importance of initial trauma management
  4. Chapter 2: Patient and staff safety
  5. Chapter 3: Introduction to the Trauma Team
  6. Chapter 4: Initial assessment of a trauma patient
  7. Chapter 5: Trauma resuscitation and management
    1. (H) Haemorrhage: Life-threatening external haemorrhage
    2. (A) Airway: Management of an unconscious trauma patient (airway management and spinal immobilization)
    3. (B) Breathing: Management of a trauma patient in Respiratory Distress (tension pneumothorax, haemothorax and open pneumothorax)
    4. (C) Circulation: Management of a trauma patient in Shock (recognising shock, haemorrhage control, IV fluid resuscitation)

Chapter 4: Initial assessment of a trauma patient

The immediate initial assessment of the injured patient centres on performance of a ‘primary survey’ and immediate life-saving interventions when required.


Primary Survey

  • Dangers
  • Response
  • External Haemorrhage
    • Control with pressure, pressure bandages, tourniquet(s) or proximal control
  • Airway
    • Ensure patency and establish a protected airway if necessary
    • Cervical spine immobilization if required
  • Breathing
    • Assist ventilation if required
  • Circulation
    • Commence CPR if required



  • Brief clinical history
  • Mechanism of injury
  • Past medical history
  • Pain
  • Medications
  • Allergies
  • Other information
    • Vital sign survey
    • Respiratory status assessment (RSA)
    • Perfusion status assessment (PSA)
    • GCS

Call for help immediately if the patient has life-threatening external haemorrhage, moderate respiratory distress, inadequate perfusion, or has eyes shut and is not responding to command.