Asthma first aid is required when someone is having an asthma flare-up or asthma attack. An asthma flare-up is a worsening of asthma symptoms and lung function compared to what would usually be experienced day to day.

An asthma flare-up can come on slowly, over hours, days or even weeks, or very quickly over minutes. A sudden or severe asthma flare-up is sometimes called an asthma attack.

How to respond

If you, or someone around you, are experiencing a severe or life-threatening asthma attack, call an ambulance. Dial Triple Zero (000) and then start asthma first aid.

If you are experiencing a mild to moderate asthma attack, start asthma first aid.



Sit the person upright

  • Be calm and reassuring
  • Do not leave them alone

Give 4 separate puffs of blue/grey reliever puffer

  • Shake puffer
  • Put 1 puff into spacer
  • Take 4 breaths from spacer

Repeat until 4 puffs have been taken
Remember: Shake, 1 puff, 4 breaths

Or give 2 separate doses of a Bricanyl inhaler (age 6 & over) or a Symbicort inhaler (over 12)


Wait 4 Minutes

  • If there is no improvement, give 4 more separate puffs or blue/grey reliever as above

Or give 1 more dose of Bricanyl or Symbicort inhaler

If there is still no improvement


Dial Triple zero (000)

  • Say ‘ambulance‘ and that someone is having an asthma attack
  • Keep giving 4 separate puffs every 4 minutes until emergency assistance arrives

or give 1 does of a Bricanyl or Symbicort  every 4 minutes – up to 3 more does of Symbicort

Call Emergency assistance immediately and dial triple zero (000) if:

  • the person is not breathing
  • the person’s asthma suddenly becomes worse or is not improving
  • the person is having an asthma attack and a reliever is no available
  • you are not sure if it’s asthma
  • the person is known to have anaphylaxis – follow their Anaphylaxis Action Plan, then give Asthma First Aid.

Blue/grey reliever medication is unlikely to harm, even if the person does not have asthma


Download your own asthma first aid poster.

Or download Asthma First Aid App to access the asthma first aid steps wherever you are.

If your symptoms improve you still need to make an appointment to see your doctor, preferably the same day.

If you’re not sure, or if you get worse again before you see your doctor, go straight to hospital or call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.

If you are experiencing any of these signs, start asthma first aid. Do not wait until asthma is severe.