How To: Use the AVPU Scale to Measure Someone’s Level of Consciousness

The AVPU scale is a way to measure a victim’s consciousness. Knowing how to use the scale when you are taking care of someone can make it easier for dispatchers to inform the emergency responders on just what condition the victim is in–whether they have a head injury or are losing a lot of blood–and help them give the best treatment they can as  soon as they arrive. Let’s break the AVPU scale down:


A stands for ALERT: Ask yourself these questions: Is the victim aware of his surroundings? Does he respond to questions? Does he know where he is and the approximate time?

V stands for VOICE: Ask yourself: Does the victim respond to questions and obey orders?

P stands for PAIN: Does the victim respond to painful stimuli, such as a pinch?

U stands for UNRESPONSIVE: If the victim does not respond to any of the above tests, he is unresponsive.

Alert is generally measured on a scale to four: Is the person aware of time, place, person, and event? If the victim isn’t aware of one or more of the above mentioned, report like so: “A x 3” , for example, if the victim answered three questions correctly but missed one.

The AVPU scale is used by emergency personnel and should not be used to measure  long term impairments, as well neurological disorders.


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