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M.I.S.T. – Expand Your First Aid Vocabulary

MIST is an important acronym used by first aiders and others. It is designed to help a first responder gather and pass on important information that will affect the casualty’s treatment. When you call for an ambulance or take a casualty to hospital, it can help you to have all the essential information ready to give to the medical professional.

The 4 parts of MIST are:

  • Mechanism
  • Injury/Illness
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Treatment

Lets look at each of these in detail:

M – Mechanism

What was the cause of the injury or pattern of illness? Get a brief description of what happened.

For example, the mechanism may be a motor vehicle accident and the car has hit a pole or tree. Or it may be the casualty has been stabbed, in which case the mechanism is stabbing by knife. In a non trauma incident, it may be swallowing something toxic, in which case the mechanism is poisoning by toxic substance (pills or acid etc).

I – Injury/illness

What is the injury sustained or illness found? What injury/illness do you suspect?

For example, the casualty may have a broken limb, dislocated shoulder or head/neck injury. In the case of toxic poisoning, the injury would be burning throat and mouth or stomach pains.

S – Signs & symptoms

What have you seen that are signs something is wrong with the casualty? What symptoms do they describe to you when you ask them ‘what’s wrong’?

For example, in the case of the trauma casualty in the first incident, (car crash), the casualty would be in severe pain, cold and clammy and disorientated. In the case of toxic poisoning, the casualty may be vomiting, have stomach pain and difficulty breathing.

T – Treatment

What emergency care have you provided up to handover to medical professional?

For example, for a stabbing casualty you may have applied direct pressure over the wound with a sterile dressing, elevated the injured site and helped the casualty to a comfortable position.

The MIST acronym is also known as DMIST as used by some pre-hospital care providers. “D” stands for “Details”, the chief complaint i.e. chest pain, unconscious, pain in leg or casualty’s details such as male/female, age.

Once you’ve done this, feel confident that you have done all you can to help the casualty. They are now in good hands and given the best opportunity for a successful outcome.