What Questions to Ask During a Medical Emergency or When Providing First Aid?

If you have taken a basic First Aid, CPR/AED class you may have walked out of the classroom thinking “I’m set”;  I can help anyone! You have knowledge, and the skills, but when faced with a sudden illness what questions do you ask? What is important? Did your instructor cover what questions to ask?

Every single class we hold provides our students with tools.  Knowledge Tools, Practical Skills Tools, and the most over looked aspect of emergency medical response training…..Question Tools!

What is going on with your patient? If they are unconscious then hopefully you know the answer to that problem, but if you don’t, call 911 for all unconscious or unresponsive persons, and it’s time to take a class.

However, if your patient is conscious and suffering from an as yet unknown sudden illness how can you help?

The answer is simply a few questions. We call it “SAMPLE“, a mnemonic acronym to remember key questions for a person’s medical assessment.

The SAMPLE history is sometimes used in conjunction with vital signs and OPQRST. The questions are most commonly used in the field of emergency medicine by first responders during the secondary assessment. It is used for alert people, but often much of this information can also be obtained from the family or friend of an unresponsive person. In the case of severe trauma, this portion of the assessment is less important. A derivative of SAMPLE history is AMPLE history which places a greater emphasis on a person’s medical history.

The parts of the mnemonic are:

  • S – Signs/Symptoms (Symptoms are important but they are subjective.)
  • A – Allergies
  • M – Medications
  • P – Past Illnesses
  • L – Last Oral Intake (Sometimes also Last Menstrual Cycle.)
  • E – Events Leading Up To Present Illness / Injury

It’s a good practice to have these memorized, but if you need a helper we have attached a downloadable form you can use when offering care. The form we use is called a “PCR” or patient care report.

Please feel free to download this form, share it, print out a few copies, and put them in your First Aid Kit.