Recognise, act and control immediately
What is shock?
Shock is a potential life-threatening condition caused by injuries that reduce blood flow. This may include:
- severe internal or external bleeding
- loss of body fluids, from dehydration, diarrhoea, vomiting or burns
- severe allergic reactions (Anaphylaxis)
- condition such as a heart attack or heart failure
As a result, the cells are restricted of oxygen that allow for optimal function. This can cause damage to the brain and the heart.
If a casualty shows signs of such conditions, resulting in reduced circulation or blood flow, they could develop shock.
Signs and symptoms
- Paleness of the face
- Fast, weak pulse
- Cold, clammy skin
- Fast, shallow breathing
- Yawning or sighing
- Reduced, loss of response
Administering first aid for shock
If the casualty shows signs of shock:
- Lay the casualty down with their head low and legs raised and supported. The aim is to increase the flow of blood to their head. Do not raise a leg if its injured.
- Call 999 or 112 for medical help and inform the operator you suspect the casualty is in shock and explain its cause (i.e. severe bleeding).
- Loosen any tight clothing around the casualty’s neck, chest or waist to ensure it doesn’t restrict blood flow.
- Keep the casualty comfortable, warm and calm until medical help arrives. Cover them with a coat or blanket and reassure them. Fear and pain can exacerbate the condition.
- Keep checking the casualty’s breathing and level of response.
If the casualty become unresponsive, open their airway and check for breathing. Prepare to treat the casualty who is unresponsive.