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How to Check a Responsive Person

If you see someone who may be ill or injured and needs your help, 

first make sure the scene is safe for you to approach. 

If it is, introduce yourself and ask permission to offer aid. 

If the person says no, let the person know why you are concerned and what you can do. 

If he still says no, and you believe it is serious, call for help.

If the person says yes, you need to start gathering information.

Ask the person's name and what happened.

Other information that may be needed if the person's condition worsens -

is he on any medication? Did he take his medication?

Does he have any allergies (to anything, even if it does not seem important)?

When did he last have anything to eat or drink?

As you are talking to the person, you may realize you can handle the situation with some simple first aid. 

If the situation starts to get worse, call 9-1-1.

Find out as much as possible, because the information you gather will end up helping the doctor(s) 

figure out what is wrong.

When EMS arrives and takes over, they will ask the same questions.

(So will the Emergency Room nurse and the doctor.)

Listen to the person's answers, if possible, while staying out of the way.

If the person says something different to EMS, let EMS know.

At some point, EMs will ask you for your report - tell them what happened and what you learned. 

 (Even if you may not think something is important,

it might be important down the line, so tell EMS everything you learned.)

So why does everyone keep asking patients the same questions over and over?

If the answers are always the same, that tells the doctor something.

If the answers change, that tell the doctor something.

It is basically a diagnostic tool to help the doctor in determining what might be going on inside the patient.

So - the 6 questions to ask (in no particular order)

  • 1. Who are you?
  • 2. What happened?
  • 3. Are you on medications?
  • 4, Did you take your medications?
  • 5, Do you have any allergies?
  • 6. What happened?


As far as medications go, some people may not know the name(s).

You can ask for what reason are they taking the medications.

You can ask what the medication look like - pills or capsules, the colour,

the size and shape. Let EMS know and they can figure out what the drug is.

Another way to remember what to ask is the acronym S.A.M.P.L.E.

In a Sample History, we find out the same information.

(Use whatever way is easiest for you to remember what to ask.)

  • SSigns/Symptoms
    A sign is something you see, a symptom is what the person tell you.
  • AAllergies
    Common allergens include weed or grass pollen, dust mites, animal dander, mold, insect stings 
    and a variety of food types, such as eggs, shellfish, nuts and grains.
  • MMedications
    As far as medications go, some people may not know the name(s).
    You can ask for what reason are they taking the medications.
    You can ask what the medication look like - pills or capsules, the colour, the size and shape.
     Let EMS know and they can figure out what the drug is.
  • PPast Illnesses
    This is Pertinent past medical history - anything which might be related to the current situation.
  • LLast Oral Intake
    When did the person last eat or drink, and what?
    Generally, this is also a good time to find out the "last output",
    in other words, when did the person go to the bathroom, and what did he do?
  • EEvents Leading Up To Present Illness / Injury.
    In other words - "What happened?"

Why is it important to find our as much as possible?

As mentioned, the information helps the doctor with his diagnosis.

Another reason to find out is if your patient passes out, you may be the only one with any information.

Every person is different. Some are shyer and not wanting to share.

Some want to tell you about their entire medical history from childhood until now.

Be kind, know this person may be scared, smile a lot, observe a lot, and do your best to get back to the questions.

It is always better to get as much information from the patient as possible.

If family members or friends or co-workers are nearby, and the person is not talking, you can ask the others.


Dealing with Children

"Children" are now categorized in the following age groups.

Since children come in all different "shapes and sizes", these are guidelines.

Infants - birth to 1 year old

Toddlers - 1 to 3 years old

Preschoolers - 4 and 5 year olds

School age children - 6 to 12 year olds

Adolescents - 13 to 17 year old

(Adults are 18 and over)

If the child is with the parent, and the parent is calm, generally the child will be.

If the adult is upset, try to calm the parent and stay calm yourself.

This will affect the child's behavior.

Try to talk to the child in the appropriate age level language.

If you are not "familiar" with children, get the parent to help you.

If you are performing first aid, and it might hurt, be honest with the child.

Always explain what it is you are going to do before you do it.

Some children are shy, others are quite inquisitive. If the child asks lots

of questions, answer them to the best of your ability. If you do not know

the answer, simply say so.

Be respectful of the child if he does not want you to see some part of him.

*** If you suspect any sort of abuse, report it to 9-1-1.

If needed, call 9-1-1 for further medical assistance.


Dealing with the Elderly

Respect goes a long way with most people, especially with older people.

When you find out the person's name, call him or her by the title he or she uses, 

Such as Mr., Mrs., Miss, Dr. Reverend, Pastor, or ...

If the person say to call him something else, you may do so.

Speak in a normal tone of voice and volume. If you feel the person may not be hearing you, 

ask if you should speak louder. The person may be hard of hearing.

The person may have some vision issues. Try to stay in the person's line of sight.

The elderly may become confused. Be patient.

Speak slowly and do not "rush the process".

When you ask a question, it may take the person a moment or so to answer.

If a family member or caregiver is with the person, he should be able to assist. 

If needed, call 9-1-1 for further medical assistance.


Dealing with Someone who has a Disability

Disabilities come in "all shapes and sizes".

Two people with the same disability can react very differently.

Regardless of the disability is physical, emotional or mental, this is still a human being. 

Treat him with respect like you should anyone else.

Again, if he is accompanied by a family member or friend, look to that person for guidance.

It is all right to ask how to talk to the person you are helping.

If the person has a Service Dog, the dog may get a bit nervous or protective.

Do not get too close until you have permission, or it is safe to do so.

You need to stay calm. The dog will sense how you are coping with everything.

If you are not familiar or comfortable around dogs, stay back a bit.

If a family member or caregiver is with the person, he should be able to assist.

If needed, call 9-1-1 for further medical assistance.

Let EMS know there is a Service Dog.

For an Emotional Disability, you may need to rely on someone with the person for answers. 

You still need to speak to the person, even though the answers may be coming from someone else. 

Be respectful. 

Even though he may not be able to understand or communicate, his is still a person, not an object.

If someone does not seem to understand what you are asking, 

ask again in different terms - not in a louder voice.

Speak slowly and distinctly, do not mumble.

Keep eye contact.

You may need to use paper and pencil.

You may need to "play charades", especially if the person does not speak English.

If you are frustrated not being able to communicate, think how frustrated the other person feels. 

Be calm and patient and empathetic.

If there is a communication issue, let 9-1-1 know.

They will send someone to assist you.

Always keep in mind that Your Safety is Always Your Number One Priority!

Always make sure the scene is safe before you approach.

If the person becomes unruly, or if a family member or friend does so,

back away and call 9-1-1 if you have not yet done so.