SAMPLE – Questions to ask a Casualty

‘SAMPLE’ helps to make sure we ask some of the key things we need to know when providing first aid to someone:

  • Signs & Symptoms
  • Allergies
  • Medication
  • Provokes
  • Last meal/food & drink
  • Events leading up to the accident, injury or illness

Signs & Symptoms

  • What do they feel? (Symptom)
  • What do you see? (Sign)
  • Include vital signs:
  •             Pulse: rate, rhythm, strength
  •             Breathing: rate, quality, depth
  •             Level of consciousness
  • Any pain (what is it like – see below)?
  • Any obvious trauma?
  • Changes to skin colour, temperature, clammy/sweaty?


Check if they have any, to food or anything else. Medical allergies will be useful for EMS/Hospital to know as well. Is the condition caused by the allergy, or is this just ‘nice to know’ right now?


Are they on any? Can they tell you what it’s for? Is this related to what you’re dealing with or is it just an incidental finding? Did it cause the problem? Could it treat the problem? Document everything you find out! Don’t assume that any medication they happen to be carrying is theirs.

Past Medical History

Has this happened before? Something like it? What other conditions do they have? Are nay related to what you’re dealing with or are they just useful to know about. How do they relate to the medications listed above. Could they become a problem soon (eg: if they have diabetes, do they need to eat soon?)

Last meal/food & drink

What have they eaten & drunk today and is it affecting their condition? See ‘the causes of unconsciousness’: Fainting? Diabetes? Poisoning (including alcohol)? Don’t give them anything to eat or drink unless it’s specifically part of the treatment.

Events leading up

….to the accident, injury or illness: This is the ‘what happened’ question. Let them tell their own story. Seek information from bystanders (remember: involve others). Look around at the environment, you may have no other choice if they’re unconscious.

About Tony Howarth

Tony is a First Aid & CPR Instructor Trainer with Sea 2 Sky Safety Training Services and the company founder. Tony started with the British Red Cross in 1994. Has acted as first aid attendant for hundreds of events & treated many hundreds of people as a result. He is experienced in training a wide range of courses. He previously worked as an ambulance attendant with the British Red Cross. He is now in BC as a first aid instructor, and an instructor trainer (one who trains others to become instructors) Finally, Tony works at Squamish General Hospital as the pharmacist manager when not busy training safety
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