First Aid Tips: Handing over to an ambulance crew

29 Sep 2011 11:02 PM | Anonymous member

First Aid Tips: 

Handing over to an 

ambulance crew

By Harry Decker (First Aid Weekly)

Often one of the most daunting prospects for any first aider is handing over care of a patient to an ambulance crew, or other healthcare provider. It is something which is often under taught, if taught at all on first aid courses, leaving the first aider apprehensive about handing over.

When on scene, you should if possible gain a SAMPLE history – signs and symptoms, allergies, medications, previous medical history, last meal, and event leading up to injury. Note this information on a piece of paper, and ensure it is given to the ambulance crew when they arrive. As well as this, a verbal handover is essential. For this, I would recommend the mnemonic CHAT. This stands for – chief complaint and any observations, history, allergies, and treatment given.

For example, a patient having a query MI (myocardial infarction) could be handed over like so –
“Hi, this is Bob, 55 years of age, presenting with central crushing chest pain radiating down the left arm and to the jaw, following moderate exercise. Pulse is 96 and weak, respiratory rate is 30, he has been alert throughout. He suffers from type one tablet controlled diabetes, has no known allergies, and is on xyz medication for the diabetes. He chewed a 300mg aspirin tablet five minutes ago. Let me know if I can do any more to help.”

This is concise and to the point – handovers should not take very long, and should only contain information believed to be relevant to patient care.

There are obviously going to be times where a handover like that is not possible – if the casualty is unconscious and you have no clue what is wrong with them, or you have had no time to gather any information because you have been providing emergency aid – e.g. control of major bleeding, or CPR. In these instances, all you can do is briefly tell the ambulance crew what you know. If you have been performing CPR, let the ambulance crew know how long for, and whether the patient was in cardiac arrest when you arrived or not, and if an AED was used, how many shocks were delivered.

To reinforce, the most important parts of giving a handover are to remain calm and methodical, and to deliver the handover in a concise, direct manner. This ensures vital information is transferred from first aider to healthcare professional.


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