First Aid & Safety Tips : How to Check Airway, Breathing and Circulation

At some time when we least expect it, we may
encounter a victim of an accident or illness that becomes unconscious. Hi I’m Captain Joe
Bruni. What we are going to talk about is how to access the airway, breathing and circulation
in the unconscious or conscious victim. We approach the victim and make sure that the
scene is safe. First and foremost, and kneel next to the patient if they are lying in this
position. The very next thing we will do is long as we don’t suspect a neck or cervical
spine injury is to tilt the head back and using the chin lift technique to open the
airway. We will then go down and look, listen and feel, looking for chest rise, feeling
against our cheek for the exchange of air or breathing and listening for the exchange
of air. If there is no exchange of air, rescue breathes may be in order. After the airways
assessed, to assess circulation we place two fingers along side the neck feeling for the
carotid artery to determine if a person has circulation or pulse. If we are determining
circulation on an infant we would check the area between the elbow and the arm pit known
as the brachial artery, again using two fingers. Do not use the thumb to assess circulation
as the thumb has it’s own pulse center. Two fingers is the way to check circulation. So
again, abc’s of airway, breathing and circulation are head tilt, chin lift, look, listen and
feel and then feel for the carotid pulse to determine if there’s circulation. I’m Captain
Joe Bruni stay safe and we will see you next time.


  1. Thanks Cap!!! You just pulled a playa. I'm new to the Firefighting family. Starting from scratch, any information will help me become great. Thanks again.

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