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Blog & Resources  > 3 Ps of First Aid: Essential Steps to Tackle Emergencies

3 Ps of First Aid: Essential Steps to Tackle Emergencies

Understanding the fundamental principles of first aid can be crucial during emergencies. The '3 Ps of first aid' refer to a mnemonic that encapsulates the aims of first aid treatment: Preserve Life, Prevent Deterioration, and Promote Recovery. This triad serves as a guideline for both trained first aiders and untrained individuals to follow when attending to someone who is injured or ill.

Preserving life is the immediate and overriding priority, ensuring that the patient's condition does not worsen until professional medical help arrives. This often involves assessing the situation for any dangers to the patient or the rescuer, providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if necessary, and stabilising vital functions.

The second P, Prevent Deterioration, focuses on the first aider's role in preventing the casualty's condition from further decline. This might involve administering basic treatments, such as applying pressure to a wound to stem bleeding. Finally, Promoting Recovery touches on actions that assist in the casualty's longer-term healing process – these can include providing comfort, reassuring the injured person, and arranging their transfer to medical care. Together, these principles form the core objectives for administering immediate and effective first aid.

Understanding the Three Ps of First Aid

The Three Ps of First Aid are a set of principles that guide the priorities of care in an emergency. They consist of actions aimed at preserving life, preventing further injury or deterioration, and promoting the recovery of the victim.

Preserve Life

In any first aid situation, the immediate priority is to preserve life. This begins with assessing the victim's airway to ensure it is clear and that they can breathe. If necessary, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may be administered to support circulation and breathing until medical professionals arrive.

Prevent Deterioration

Once life-preservation measures are in place, the next focus is to prevent deterioration. This involves a careful assessment of the injury and taking steps to stop bleeding, immobilise fractures, and prevent infection using methods such as disinfecting and dressing wounds.

Promote Recovery

To promote recovery, first aiders provide comfort to the victim, alleviating pain through appropriate interventions and preparing for the arrival of emergency services. They help victims into comfortable positions and reassess regularly to detect signs of shock or changes in consciousness.

The Significance of CPR

CPR is a lifesaving technique crucial in first aid that deals with sudden cardiac arrests. It combines rescue breathing and chest compressions to maintain circulation and breathing until advanced care is available.

Assessing the Situation

Before delivering first aid, the responder must assess the situation for risks and hazards. This risk assessment determines the safety of the environment for both the victim and the bystander.

Establishing First Response

First response is this initial action taken at the scene of an emergency. The responder must identify injuries, administer appropriate first aid treatment, and decide when to call for additional help.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

First aiders should be aware of their legal and ethical obligations. While aiming to save lives, they must understand the extent of their skills and the legal framework guiding their actions during first aid.

Developing First Aid Skills

Developing first aid skills through certified training is essential. It ensures that individuals are equipped to handle various emergency scenarios effectively.

First Aid in Various Scenarios

First aid varies across different scenarios—from home accidents involving burns or bleeding to public emergencies such as seizures. Each context requires specific first aid interventions.

Post-Emergency Actions

After an emergency, documenting the actions taken and reflecting on the response can improve future first aid practices. It also includes monitoring the victim's road to long-term recovery.


These guiding principles are vital in structuring the approach to first aid, aiming to maximise the chances of survival and recovery for the victim while ensuring the safety of the responder.

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