Finding someone with a potentially serious injury or illness can be a stressful situation, and it is easy to panic. Yet, as one of the first people on the scene, you can play a vital role in ensuring that the best possible care is given in the most efficient manner. Remember: contacting the relevant emergency service should always be your first priority. However, whilst waiting, you can use the following SAMPLE questions to collect useful and potentially life-saving information.
If the individual that you encounter is well enough to verbally communicate, then you can utilise this to gain useful information about their condition, and also reduce their own stress and make them feel more comfortable where possible.
Time may be short, or the individual may not be in a state to say much, so it is important to know what questions you should be asking to ensure the correct treatment is given – and also to pass relevant information onto emergency services.
For an individual that appears unwell, you can use the acronym SAMPLE to help you remember what questions to ask! Also, these questions are general enough that if the individual is unresponsive and unable to verbally communicate, you may be able to ask any friends or family members that are present and may know about the preceding situation.
So, SAMPLE – What does it stand for?
S – Symptoms / Signs
“How do you feel?”
Learn what the individual’s symptoms are and how they feel at the present moment. Ask them how they feel, but also take note of any symptoms that you can observe.
A – Allergies
“Are there any known allergies?”
The individual’s condition may well be due to an allergic reaction. Yet even if this is not the case, if they have any known allergies to medication, this is very important information to pass onto medical professionals.
M – Medications
“Are you currently on any medication?”
Again, reactions to medication should not be ruled out. But also, existing medication in the individual’s system may affect the treatment that they go on to receive. If possible, finding out the last time medication was taken is also useful.
P – Pre-existing Medical Conditions
“Are there any pre-existing medical conditions?”
Asking the individual if they have any known and pre-existing medical conditions, even if they do not appear relevant to the unfolding situation, is very important information to pass onto medical professionals or emergency services. As with the questions above, any pre-existing conditions could affect preceding treatments.
L – Last Meal
“When / what did you last eat?”
Diet can massively affect the way that the individual feels. If they have diarrhoea and vomiting symptoms, this may be explicitly traced to something eaten within the last few hours. Likewise, if nothing has been eaten within the last 12 hours, dizziness and fainting could have resulted from low blood sugar.
E – Events before Illness / Injury
“What were you doing?”
In case of injury, the events leading up to the current situation would be very relevant. Illness can also be brought on by immediate environmental factors, so collecting any information on the events leading up to the illness or injury is vital.
Remember, where there are signs of a medical emergency, contacting the relevant emergency medical services and getting them on the way to you is always the most important action, and your first priority.
However, these questions may help those of us waiting with an individual for the corresponding services to arrive – and to help out the emergency responders with the information collected.
SAMPLE questions may help you save a life!