First Aid Monitoring Vital Signs

Facts About Vital Signs

  • While waiting for help / ambulance, a injured person must be observed closely
  • Particular attention is paid to awareness, breath, pulse and temperature in that order
  • If the person becomes more unclear / unconscious, breathing falls (12-16 times / minute normal), drops or rises the pulse (50-90 beats per minute normal), the temperature changes (preferably hot and dry)


  • While waiting for the ambulance, it is important to observe the breathing, pulse and consciousness of the injured person.
  • These vital signs can help you assess whether the condition seems stable, worsens, improves, or if there is a specific problem
  • It may also be necessary to check the body temperature
  • Write down your findings with timetables, if possible. Provide information to the ambulance staff or healthcare professionals

Check the level of consciousness

  • Assess the level of consciousness of the injured person. Check it periodically to determine whether the condition improves or worsens
  • The scale and response usually – the patient is at full consciousness
  • Responds to (high) speech – responds to your voice, answers simple questions, obeys simple commands
  • Responds to pain (eg level of shoulder)
  • Does not respond to any kind of contact. This means that the patient is unconscious. Be ready to start resuscitation ( child / adult )

Check the breathing

  • The normal amount of breathing in adults is 12-16 breaths. In small children 20-30 breaths per minute
  • Listen to the breathing of the injured person. Keep in mind how the chest rises and decreases. Count the number of breaths within 1 minute
  • In small children, it may be a good idea to put your hand on the baby’s chest and feel the breath
  • Listen for signs of respiratory distress or unusual sounds
  • Note the following details:
    • Speed ​​- Number of breaths per minute
    • Depth – deep or superficial breath
    • Quality – easy, difficult, painful for the child
    • Noise – Quiet or distressed breathing

Check heart rate

  • The normal pulses in adults are 50-90 beats per minute. In well-trained younger adults, the pulse is slower. In children it is much faster – up to 140 beats per minute. However, the pulse may be worse by fear or pain.
  • Check the pulse of a injured person on the throat (carotid) or at the wrist (radial)
  • In infants it is easiest to find the pulse in the upper arm (brachialis) or in the lymph (femoralis)
  • When you check the pulse of an injured person, use your fingers. Do not use your thumb as it has its own heart rate. Press lightly down the artery to feel the strokes
  • Note the following details:
    • Speed ​​- number of beats per minute
    • Strength – if the pulse is strong or weak
    • Rhythm – if the pulse is regular or irregular

Temperature Measurement

  • Normal body temperature is around 37 ° C
  • Higher temperatures are usually caused by infection. Lower temperature ( hypothermia ) is due to the fact that the person has been exposed to cold and / or damp weather
  • Use of thermometer ensures accurate temperature measurement
  • There are different types of thermometers: Mercury, digital, ear thermometer. Read more about temperature measurement
  • If you do not have a thermometer, check if the person is hot or cold. Cover the person if she is warm and cover in cold skin
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