So you are at home, and your mum calls you to her bedroom, she complains of a headache,nausea and dizziness. She asks you for the painkillers on top of the fridge, and a glass of cold water, you oblige and see to it that she takes the medicine.

Twenty minutes later, she calls you back, and she looks bad, she is sweating, he face is pale and he fingers are trembling. You ask her whats wrong, and she motions to her head, after a precious few seconds,you decide that caliing for an Ambulance is easier than remembering what you learnt in First Aid class, then you remember you don’t have an Emergency Responder number on your phone. Panic. Confusion. Desperation. Precious seconds whiling away.


This article will, hopefully, help you know what to do in scenarios such as the one portrayed above, scenarios we pray will never happen, but that we need to be prepared for.

SAMPLE questions have been proved to be simple, yet very effective in pre-hospital care.
S – Signs and symptoms
OPQRST is an acronym that will help you ask the person who is unwell, regarding signs and symptoms.
O – Onset “when did the pain or discomfort begin ?”
Provocation/Palliation – “what makes the pain better, or worse ?” “what position makes the pain)discomfort better/worse”, “does movement affect the discomfort/pain ?”
Q – “describe the sensation in your abdomen/head/place of dicomfort to me”
Region/Radiating – “point to me, show me exactly where youis”, pain may span more than one region, and its always important to ask whether the pain shoots to other parts
Severity – “on a scale of 1-10,how much is the pain ?”
Time – “how long have you had the pain/discomfort ?”, “has it changed over time ? For better or worse ?”

This acronym will help you answer the operator’s questions, if the patient/victim can not answer the questions themselves, or if they lose consciousness.
A – Allergies. Ask if the patient has any allergies
M – Medication. Ask what medication, if any, the patient is on. This includes, over the counter medication, herbal and even illegal medication and drugs. Aspirin, a drug used to prevent heart attacks and stroke, can cause abdominal bleeding.
Pertinent Past History – The medical history of the patient may provide past problems, that may be related to the current problem.
Last Oral Intake – especially important, for patients with abdominal complaints. Additionally determine, if this intake over the past hours,days has been normal.
E – Events leading to the Emergency. Events leading to the need for a call to EMS might help determine a timeline and progression of signs and symptoms.


In case you don’t have them, a list of EMS providers in Nairobi.
* AAR – +254 20 2895000
* Amref – +254722314239 / +254733639088
* St.John – +254721225285
* Emergency Plus (Red Cross) – +254717714938 / +254738395395
* Nairobi Hospital +254722204114 / +254722204116

SAMPLE and OPQRST might just help you save a life