I have just started doing volunteer work on an ambulance, but I had noticed that every time I had to check a patient's heart rate, I couldn't find the pulse and had to have someone else do it instead. I even had one of the women volunteering alongside me teach me how to find it, but I couldn't do it.

Do you have any tips on finding radial pulse on a patient in a moving, noisy environment?

  • Welcome to health SE :-). That's an interesting question. I've edited out the thanks, it's sort of a rule on SE and created a pulse tag, I hope that you don't mind. For more information on the site you can take our tour or visit the help center and Medical Sciences Meta. I hope we'll see more questions (and perhaps answers) from you.
    – Lucky
    Nov 6 '16 at 14:07

Experience: Working 8 years out of an Air Force ER with primary ambulance response and air transportable hospital duties.

What always worked well for me was to use landmarks to find the pulse. Go about 1" proximal to the base of the palm (There may be a crease line there to use as a mark), and to the lateral side of the wrist. There is a tendon there, I went a little to the outside (lateral) of that, palpated with the fore and middle fingers.

Pull gently towards the tendon and slightly down, and you should feel the pulse. I also (as a personal preference) kept my fingers just slightly separated (Maybe 1/4" or so) as I felt that gave me a better feel for the pulse. As far as being able to distinguish it in a distracting environment, you just learn to shut that out.

All of the above assumes that the patient is not compromised to the point where you won't be able to feel a radial pulse no matter what. In that case you would need to go to brachial, femoral or carotid.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.