WHO-ICRC Basic Emergency Care: approach to the acutely ill and injured

Developed by WHO and International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), in collaboration with the International Federation for Emergency Medicine (IFEM), the Basic Emergency Care (BEC): Approach to the acutely ill and injured is an open-access training course for first contact health workers who manage acute illness and injury with limited resources. Well-trained first contact health workers are cornerstones of strong integrated health services to provide timely, quality care. BEC teaches a systematic approach to the initial assessment and management of time-sensitive critical conditions where early intervention saves lives. The goal of these modules is to prepare and support all health providers as they provide emergency care to seriously ill patients.

Photo credits: WHO / Jayme Gershen

If you are interested in learning skills, doing an in-person course or becoming an instructor, please visit this link.

Self-paced
Language: English
Not disease specific

Course information

A systematic approach to emergency conditions saves lives, even when specialised care is not available. To this end, the WHO, in collaboration with the ICRC and IFEM, developed the BEC course for first contact health workers who manage acute life-threatening conditions with limited resources. This course introduces a systematic approach to managing time-sensitive critical conditions even before a diagnosis is known. The WHO/ICRC BEC Course introduces a practical and systematic management approach to emergency conditions divided into five modules: the ABCDE approach, trauma, difficulty in breathing, shock and altered mental status. It also includes content on handover and medications.

Since its launch in 2015, the BEC course has been taught worldwide using a 5-day structure delivery through lectures, workbook questions, small group case scenarios, multiple choice questions and skills stations. These modules on the Open WHO provide the essential knowledge covered in the 5 days course. The content is meant to be used as refresher material or as a ‘just-in-time' educational resource.

BEC skills are not covered in the OpenWHO offering.

Course duration: Approximately 7 hours.

Certificates: A Certificate of Achievement will be available to participants who score at least 80% of the total points available across all of the quizzes. Participants who receive a Certificate of Achievement can also download an Open Badge for this course. Click here to learn how.

Note: Review of the WHO/ICRC BEC content on OpenWHO will NOT allow the learner to be a ‘BEC trained provider’. To receive BEC certification, training must be done via a face-to-face training OR via the WHO Academy PLUS a 2-day in-person Practical Skill Training (PST). Find out more here

What you'll learn

  • Relate the components of the ABCDE systematic approach to the acutely ill patient
  • List the components of the SAMPLE history
  • Explain the structure, organization and application of the ABCDE systematic approach for the acutely ill patient
  • Identify key causes, signs and symptoms and management for: acute airway obstruction, difficulty in breathing, poor perfusion and shock and altered mental status
  • Describe special considerations and management differences for the acutely ill paediatric and obstetric patient presenting with: acute airway obstruction, difficulty in breathing, poor perfusion and altered mental status
  • Explain when and how to call for help and refer for higher-level care.

Course contents

  • Introduction

  • Module 1: The ABCDE and SAMPLE history approach:

    By the end of this module, you should be able to: list the hazards and elements that must be considered when approaching an ill or injured person safely; describe the components of the systematic ABCDE approach to emergency patients; assess each element of the ABCDE approach (assess an airway & explain when to use airway devices and when advanced airway management is needed; assess breathing and explain when to assist breathing; assess fluid status (circulation) and provide appropriate fluid resuscitation); describe the signs and symptoms of acute life-threatening conditions; describe the critical ABCDE actions for acute life-threatening conditions; describe special paediatric considerations for the ABCDE approach; list the elements of and perform a relevant SAMPLE history; consider disposition of emergency patients for handover / transfer.
  • Module 2: Trauma:

    By the end of this module, you should be able to: perform the trauma primary survey (ABCDE approach to trauma); recognize life-threatening injuries; identify critical actions for high-risk conditions; recognize key history findings suggestive of high-risk trauma; recognize physical exam findings suggestive of high-risk trauma; know how to perform the trauma secondary survey (head-to-toe trauma exam); recognize and manage important conditions based on history and secondary survey; identify special considerations for pregnant trauma patients; identify special considerations for paediatric trauma patients; consider disposition of trauma patients.
  • Module 3: Difficulty in Breathing:

    By the end of this module, you should be able to: understand key elements from a SAMPLE history for a patient with difficulty in breathing; recognize key history findings suggestive of different causes of difficulty in breathing; describe how to perform a secondary exam for a patient with difficulty in breathing; recognize the signs of difficulty in breathing , list the high-risk causes of difficulty in breathing
  • Module 4: Shock:

    By the end of this module, you should be able to: recognize signs of shock and poor perfusion; perform critical actions for patients with shock; assess fluid status; select appropriate fluid administration based on patient’s age, weight and condition; recognize malnourishment, anaemia and burns and adjust fluid resuscitation accordingly.
  • Module 5: Altered Mental Status:

    By the end of this module, you should be able to: recognize key history findings suggestive of different causes of altered mental status; recognize key physical findings suggestive of different causes of altered mental status; list high-risk causes of altered mental status in adults and children; perform critical actions for high-risk causes of altered mental status.
  • Module 6: Transfer and Handover:

    By the end of this module, you should be able to: analyse the steps needed to transferring patients (destination planning, transport, and handover); reflect on the importance of ensuring the level of services at destination facility match the needs of the patient; anticipate needs that may arise during transport; conduct a structured handover using the SBAR steps (situation, background, assessment, recommendation).

Enroll me for this course

The course is free. Just register for an account on OpenWHO and take the course!
Enroll me now
Learners enrolled: 14424

Certificate Requirements

  • Gain a Record of Achievement by earning at least 80% of the maximum number of points from all graded assignments.