Patient Assessment for Unconscious Victims

The information posted on this page for patient assessment for unconscious victims is for learning purposes only. Enrol in a course with one of providers located in Canada, including in Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto, to learn with hands on training and get certified. Candidates registered for standard first aid training will learn to demonstrate the recognition and care of an unconscious, breathing patient. To successfully complete this portion of the course participants must include concepts learned in earlier parts of the course including activating emergency medical services (EMS) and effectively using a bystander to obtain a automated external defibrillator (AED). The following portion of the standard first aid training program is for all rescuers entering a scene with a unconscious victims that is non-responsive.

Scene Assessment:

Participants must evaluate the rescue scene as follows:

  • Candidates must remove the victim from the dangers or the hazards from the victim in a safe and cautious manner.
  • Rescuers should try to determine the mechanism of injury.
  • Rescuers need to assess the number of patients.
  • Candidates need to have appropriate communication with patients.

Primary Assessment:

To complete a primary assessment rescuers must:

  • Assess the level of consciousness of the patient(s).
  • If necessary, use a bystander to contact EMS and obtain an AED.
  • Position the patient in a position in which the rescuer can open the airway.
  • Open the airway and look, listen and feel for normal or abnormal breathing for 5 seconds.
  • Complete a rapid body survey to obtain more information about injuries.
  • Place the injured patient into a recovery position if no spinal injury is suspected or if the movement will aggravate existing injuries.
  • Treat the patient for shock (taught in future chapter in standard first aid course).
  • Maintain the patients open airway.

Secondary Survey:

Once the primary survey is completed the rescuer can move onto the secondary survey which includes:

  • Obtaining the victims history (example: signs and symptoms, allergies, medication, past pertinent history, last meal and events prior).
  • Record the victims vital signs (Time, levels of consciousness, pulse, respiration, eyes, skin colour and skin temperature).
  • Detailed head to toe assessment of the patient.


A good patient assessment can dramatically prevent more serious harm and possible death from occurring to a patient. It is essential for rescuers to successfully complete a patient assessment for a unconscious victim when taking standard first aid training.