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Common First Aid Terms – RICER, DRSABCD, And More!


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Common First Aid Terms – RICER, DRSABCD, And More: First Aid can get confusing. With all of the phrases and terms, it can sometimes be hard to keep up.

Here is a quick guide below for the ones which are used most often and what they mean.

What Does DRSABCD Stand For?

  • Danger

Assess the situation, are there any live wires? Is there traffic around? Are you going to be able to approach the casualty and commence CPR, or will you be placed in significant danger by doing so? 

  • Response

Can they move? When you speak to them, are they able to respond with a movement or with their voice? 

  • Send

Send for help! Call 000 and if you need it, enlist the help of others who are around you.

  • Airway

Is their airway clear? Tilt their head back and look in their mouth to check. If their airway is visibly unclear, remove it.

  • Breathing

Can you see their chest moving? Can you hear them breathing? If they are breathing, carefully move them into the recovery position on their side. If not, start the next step. 

  • CPR

Commence CPR at a rate of 30 chest compressions to 2 breaths. 

  • Defibrillator (also known as AED)

Use an AED if available and follow the instructions within. 

What Does AED Stand For?

AED stands for an automated external defibrillator; these are often available in businesses and educational institutions.

AED’s are easy to use, with diagrams inside showing how to set the machine up and place the pads correctly. Vocal prompts will also alert the user when to pause CPR- while it delivers a slight shock and when to recommence.

AEDs look at the hearts rhythm and analyse when to provide a shock to create an effective rhythm. 

What Does COWS Mean In First Aid?

Can you hear me? 

Open your eyes.

What is your name? 

Squeeze my hand.

COWS can be used in DRSABCD when looking for a verbal response. If this does not work, gently squeeze their shoulders. If they still do not respond, continue with DRSABCD. 


What Does RICER Stand For?

Most commonly used for bruises and sprains, RICER stands for: 

Rest and protect the injured or sore area. Stop, change or take a break from any activity that may be causing your pain or soreness. 

Ice for 20 minutes at a time 4 to 8 times a day.

Compress to help reduce the swelling.

Elevate the injured limb 6 to 10 inches above the heart. 

Referral – go see your doctor and get their opinion.


What Does FAST Stand For In First Aid?

Fast is commonly used to detect the signs of a stroke. This handy guide will help you determine if something is wrong and you need to get help. 

Facial drooping- is one side of the face drooping, or is it numb? Get them to smile. 

Arm weakness, is the arm numb? Ask the person to lift both arms, is one downward. 

Speech Difficulty- Is speech slurred? Are they hard to understand, or do they find it difficult to speak? 

Time to call 000

Learning More About CPR

To learn more about CPR find your closest course here

The First Aid Course Perth also have printable resources and step-by-step guides on how to perform CPR on a variety of ages. 

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