If this is an emergency, please call 000 immediately.

What is the DRSABCD Action Plan?

This information is NOT a substitute for first aid training. St John recommends that everyone is trained in first aid.

The St John DRSABCD Action Plan is a vital aid in assessing whether a patient has any life-threatening conditions and if any immediate first aid is necessary.

This guide is regularly updated and aligns with the current edition of Australian First Aid (4th edition, 7/2011)

What to do


  • Ensure the area is safe for yourself, others and the patient.



  • Check for a response: ask name, squeeze shoulders.

  • No response? Send for help.

  • Response? Make comfortable and monitor response.

Send for help

  • Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance or ask another person to make the call.


Open Airway

  • Open the mouth and check the airway for foreign material.
  • Foreign material? Place in the recovery position and clear the airway.
  • No foreign material? Leave in position.
  • Open the airway by tilting the head back with a chin lift.


  • Check for breathing: look, listen, feel for 10 seconds.
  • Not normal breathing? Ensure an ambulance has been called; start CPR.
  • Normal breathing? Place in the recovery position and monitor breathing.

Start CPR

  • 30 chest compressions : 2 breaths.
  • Continue CPR until help arrives or the patient starts breathing.

Attach Defibrillator (AED)

  • Follow the voice prompts.


DRSABCD poster

Related advice

How to do CPR on an adult

If an adult is unresponsive and not breathing normally, you need to call 000 for emergency help and start CPR straight away. Learn what to do.

How to do CPR on an infant

If an infant is unresponsive and not breathing normally, you need to call 000 for emergency help and start CPR straight away. Learn what to do.

Recovery position

The recovery position is one of those important pieces of first aid information that everyone should know, so we’ve created a quick and simple guide.

Courses that teach this skill

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Provide First Aid

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For those wanting to learn CPR, maintain their competence, or refresh their existing skills.

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Occupational First Aid

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Equipment used