The primary assessment as taught to EMS students generally involves some combination of the ABC’s, level of consciousness, a general impression of the patient’s condition and a definition of treatment priorities for the call. This assessment still plays an important role in determining the flow of a call from start to finish.
The stepwise method taught in school is a great way to remember each phase of the assessment, but can take too long to complete on critical patients. While the primary assessment is taught — and tested — in a linear fashion, there are several ways that a provider can streamline the process. While in school you are required to perform many skills on your own, but practicing medicine as an EMS professional means that you have one or more additional providers at your disposal and you can expedite the process.