Primary Survey Using ABCDE
The goal of the Primary Survey is to identify and treat conditions that pose an immediate threat to life.
Approaching the victim using the acronym A B C D E allows the rescuer to address the life-threatening issues in order of importance. Because this portion of the assessment is searching for critical conditions, it is most applicable to patients who have an altered level of consciousness or have a significant injury.
However, this survey should be utilized in every victim whom one treats in the wilderness. In those victims who are alert and appear well, this assessment may be brief. Problems found on the primary survey that are life threatening should be addressed immediately, before continuing the survey.