When training to become a first-aider, a part of your training aims to equip you with adequate knowledge in performing basic first aid.

This includes essentials in a first-aid kit, basic bandaging, and other things that concern primary medical care.

But, on top of that, you must also know how to identify injuries or illnesses that require treatment.

By doing so, you can come up with appropriate solutions to address the casualty. This is also a good indicator if there’s a need to call for emergency services or not.

But how are you supposed to do this?

The most proper way is to ask the right questions and scrape all the information from the casualty.

There are no wrong questions to ask, but it’s efficient to use SAMPLE. This is taught in first aid training courses, such as in a first aid course and lifeguarding.

First Aid SAMPLE Medical Acronym: What Does It Mean?

SAMPLE is one of the highlights when you undergo training for basic first aid. It’s among the first-aid acronyms taught in all first aid courses, as well as in lifeguarding courses.

Aside from vital signs, a first-aider needs to have knowledge of these steps to provide appropriate treatment and services.

During your training, you will learn the basics of performing SAMPLE. But for this article, allow us to walk you through the method one by one.

Let’s find out what each letter of the first aid acronym, SAMPLE, stands for:

Signs & Symptoms

These are the PRIMARY things to look for in casualties. These are great indicators of the possible injury or illness that must be treated in a patient.

Signs are what you can identify in the patient based on observation. Examples of these are:

  • Bruises
  • Pale complexion
  • Insect stings
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Irregular breathing
  • Other physical manifestations in the body

A symptom, on the other hand, is what the patients feel. Only a conscious casualty can identify their symptoms. For example:

  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain


Allergies are another thing to ask about in a patient when doing first aid. This includes their reactions to allergens, like treatments, food, and the environment.

It may not be as necessary as the other components of first aid, but this information is vital for a doctor or paramedic to know. You can pass this on to them if necessary.


Prescription medicines taken by the casualty will point out if they have existing medical conditions that led to the injury or illness.

This will also help if the casualty is aware that the medication can treat or alleviate their health situation.

If the patient is unconscious, you can try to go through their belongings and look for medication. When these are unfamiliar, you can present these to a health practitioner.

Past Medical History

Asking about the casualty’s relevant medical history during assessment can help determine the probable cause of first aid incidents.

This can also help you provide adequate first aid response for the casualty. 

Their in-depth history may reveal that they have experienced low blood sugar, heart attack, heart problems and the like.

You can also ask if the incident already happened in the past and what they did the last time it happened.

Additionally, you may ask if a family member has similar experiences or illnesses. You may ask them if their family has a history of hypertension, diabetes, and cardiac arrest, among others.

All these may not be necessary at all events. But, dealing with two heart attacks and a major surgical procedure in the past weeks could MATTER in saving a life.

Last Oral Intake

You should also assess the last thing they ate or drank when doing first aid. This could also indicate that the accident or illness is caused by food or drink.

It’s also necessary to report this to the paramedics in case they need to provide medication for the patient. Intoxication may happen when a medicine interacts with other substances.

When the casualty can’t answer for themself, you can ask people they are with during the occurrence about this information.

Events Leading Up to the Illness, Injury, or Incident

Knowing what happened before illness, injury, or incident could paint a big picture of the probable causes of the event.

The time leading to the event may also indicate how fatal the situation is or how urgent emergency services are needed to respond to the incident.

Knowing how long the patient has been dealing with the situation can be a piece of vital information for paramedics as well.

How to Do First Aid With SAMPLE

History, medications, oral intake, allergic reactions, and symptoms of health conditions are just a few of the many things to know when doing first aid.

In your first aid training and course, you’re also taught how to take vital signs and monitor the patient’s condition. This information is equally critical. 

You must write down all relevant information while gathering them. Usually, a casualty monitoring card is included in a first aid kit.

This ensures that you have every detail intact, and you can pass it on to a paramedic or any health practitioner.


When you’re assigned to do first aid, you are trained to check the casualty’s condition and respond as necessary. But, it’s also important that you know the right questions to ask.

During your training or course in first aid, it’s emphasized that this is VITAL to provide good quality treatment and save lives.

When doing first aid, you must ask the casualty right away. Time is precious in such situations because you may lose the opportunity when they become unconscious.

A secondary survey may not be possible at this time. Hence, the information you hold is vital to save a person’s life.

Your role as a first-aider is crucial. It’s essential that you take your course and training by heart. With this, you can help and save many people in need.

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