In reviewing for my upcoming ACLS recertification through the American Heart Association‘s HeartCode ACLS program, I learned that the classic mnemonic for the Basic Life Support (BLS) primary survey, the “ABCs”, which stood for Airway, Breathing (including Look, Listen, and Feel) and Circulation, had recently been modified. The purpose of the change was to decrease time until chest compressions and defibrillation.
However the change leaves us without a simple mnemonic for easy recall for the primary BLS survey.
Thus I introduce my mnemonic for the primary BLS survey, and how much more appropriate could it be:
- R (Response): Assess the patient’s responsiveness. This includes scanning the chest for movement.
- A (Activate/AED): Activate the Emergency Response System & get an AED (if available)
- P (Pulse): Check for a pulse
- I (Initiate): If there is no pulse, initiate high-quality CPR
- D (Defibrillate): Check rhythm (via AED) and deliver a shock if indicated
You could also remember “RAPID Rescue”. The addition of “Rescue” should help you remember that if you are successful in restoring spontaneous circulation, give Rescue Breaths.