Safety First ... Home


Walking into an emergency scene without making things worse for you or your patient is a simple skill that anyone can master quickly. 

Learning how to actually help someone while you’re there is an art.

Experienced paramedics seem to have a sixth sense - they walk into a scene and immediately know what is going on.  This sixth sense is called ‘scene awareness’, and it is something that develops gradually over years of working in EMS.  However, you don’t have to wait years.

You can quickly develop scene awareness by learning to focus your attention on specific facets of what is happening around you in an orderly and disciplined way.  It takes concentration, practice and patience, but you can do it.

You can learn this method of focused attention by first learning the mnemonic ‘Safety F.I.R.S.T. G.E.T. 1° &  2° ABCDs’.

This sentence makes sense all on it’s own:  first you ensure your own safety, then you assess and treat the Airway, Breathing and Circulation of your patient.  Then you make important Decisions about their care.

However, the mnemonic does more than that. 

In the following pages we will work through each part of this mnemonic to discover how it directs us to approach an EMS call.  Remember, you will be learning to pay attention to what is around you in a focused and organized way.  Learn the steps, master them, and then follow them on every call.

The Safety F.I.R.S.T.mnemonic will guide you through the first 1 or 2 minutes of a call, as you approach a patient.

So let’s look at what you do first.  What does the ‘Safety’ in the ‘Safety FIRST GET 1° &  2° ABCDs’ mnemonic stand for? ...

Study Notes:

  1. 1.This mnemonic covers the first five minutes of an EMS call.

  2. 2.The steps in “Safety FIRST GET” can be done in under 1 minute in an uncomplicated call.

  3. 3.The 1° and 2° ABCDs can be done in under 2 minutes in an uncomplicated call.

  4. 4.The structure of this mnemonic will show you how to pay attention to what is around you in a focused and organized way.

  5. 5.Learn the steps, master them, and then follow them on every call.

How veteran paramedics approach and organize
an EMS call.

“Safety first ... get primary and secondary ABCD’s”


“Safety First” ... Table of Contents

Safety    Use your BSI - Biological Safety

              F is for Fire - Scene Safety

I                 I is for Incident: MOI/NOI          

R                Determine the numbeR of patients

S                Send for help

T                Trauma to the C-spine?

G                General impression of the patient

E                Estimate LOAs

T                Threats to you or your patient?

1°A             1° Airway

1°B             1° Breathing

1°C             1° Circulation

1°D             1° Decision

2°A             2° Airway

2°B             2° Breathing

2°C             2° Circulation

2°D             2° Decision