Tuesday, 12 January 2016

First aid brushup: Wound management - Shock

Shock is the loss of blood volume or pressure to organs in the body which causes them to cease normal function.  Ultimately this condition can result in death.

Image from here


If possible, find out whether there is a history of any of the following -
  • Multiple fractures or trauma (including brain or spinal injuries)
  • Severe bleeding
  • Severe fluid loss (for example, from dehydration, burns or diarrhoea)
  • Severe infection
  • Allergic reaction

Stages of Shock

Initially the casualty may have pale, cold and clammy skin and their breathing and heart rate increase.

As the condition continues, parts of their boddy (especially the lips) may take on a grey-blue colour and they may appear weak, dizzy and restless.  They may complain of nausea and marked thirst and sweating.

When the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain decreases, you may identify enlarged pupils, drowsiness and yawning, confusion and a drift into unconsciousness.


Conscious casualty

Send for an ambulance.  While waiting, encourage the casualty to lie down on a blanket (or at any rate, on something which will insulate them from cold ground).  If possible, raise their legs to improve blood supply to vital organs, and loosen clothing around the neck, chest and waist to assist breathing.  Do not allow them to eat or drink while waiting for the ambulance, but moisten their lips to help control thirst.

Unconscious casualty

Request an ambulance, and provide CPR and defibrillation if necessary.  When breathing resumes, move the casualty into the recovery position, and then manage any other injuries.  Closely monitor their condition.


As with other posts in this series, the information supplied is from Kym Eden's Fun with First Aid (2013).

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