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Fundamental First Aid: The ABC's


Updated May 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Safety First
Fundamental First Aid: The ABC's

Stay safe. If you have protective equipment, wear it.

Rod Brouhard

Universal Precautions

Professional rescuers practice universal precautions when providing medical care to victims. Universal precautions are steps used to reduce the potential for victims to infect rescuers. Practicing universal precautions requires personal protective equipment, such as gloves or eye protection.

To better protect yourself, you should make sure your first aid kit is adequately stocked with the personal protective equipment necessary to practice universal precautions.

Staying Safe

Safety is an ongoing concern that must never leave your thoughts.

There is a primal instinct in many people to dash to the rescue of those in need. Regardless of the dire circumstances of whatever terrible accident or injury you may witness, it's urgent that you keep your wits about you and stay safe.

Safety is an awareness of your surroundings and a healthy fear of unstable situations. By it's very nature, an emergency is an unstable situation. If everything were truly under control, nothing bad would've happened in the first place.

If, for example, you see a person struck by a car in a crosswalk, do not rush headlong into the street to see if they're injured. You will no doubt find yourself lying next to them after being struck by the next car barreling down the road.

In its 2010 CPR Guidelines, the American Heart Association changed the order of ABC's. ABC is still the best way to remember the beginning, so here is a new way to think of the ABC's and still follow the CPR Guidelines:

  • A: Awake?
  • B: Breathing?
  • C: Continue Care
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