ATLS is a protocol for the management of trauma victims. It was devised in 1976 and has been directed at the casualty officer. It is designed to maximise management in the first "golden hour" following trauma, and thus ensure an optimal long term outcome.
ATLS may be performed by an individual clinician but it is usually performed by teams. ATLS helps members of the casualty team work together, i.e. whilst one person is securing the airway, another is inserting a venous cannula whilst another is exposing the patient.
During execution, the clinician should be CONSTANTLY running through the protocol, performing a primary survey first then repeating the protocol in further assessments.
Following stabilisation of the patient, plans for further management or definitive care may then be made.