Shock – First Aid Advice

First aid treatment of shock – Introduction

This life-threatening condition occurs when vital organs do not get enough oxygen due to reduced blood circulation. The most common cause of shock is severe blood loss, it can also be caused by loss of other body fluids as in the case of severe burns or prolonged vomiting and diarrhoea.

First aid treatment of shock and recognition

Initially, a flow of adrenaline causes:

  • A rapid pulse
  • Pale, grey skin, especially inside the lips. If pressure is applied to a fingernail or earlobe, it will not regain its colour immediately
  • Sweating, and cold, clammy skin (sweat does not evaporate)

As shock develops, there may be:

  • Weakness and giddiness
  • Nausea, and sometimes vomiting
  • Thirst
  • Rapid, shallow breathing.
  • A weak, ‘thready’ pulse.  When the pulse at the wrist disappears, fluid loss may equal half the blood volume.

As the oxygen supply to the brain weakens:

  • The casualty may become restless, anxious and aggressive
  • The casualty may yawn and gasp for air (‘air hunger’)
  • The casualty will eventually become unconscious
  • Finally, the heart will stop

Treatment of Shock

DO NOT let the casualty move unnecessarily, eat, drink, or smoke.

DO NOT leave the casualty unattended.  Reassure the casualty constantly.

  • Treat any cause of shock which can be remedied (such as external bleeding)
  • Lay the casualty down, keeping the head low
  • Raise and support the casualty’s legs (be careful if suspecting a fracture)
  • Loosen any tight clothing
  • Insulate the casualty from cold, both above and below
  • Call 999 immediately
  • Check and record breathing, pulse and level of response
  • Be prepared to resuscitate the casualty if necessary

First aid treatment of shock – GK First Aid Training offer a number of First Aid Courses that deal with the condition of Shock. We offer both the 1 Day Emergency First Aid at Work and the 3 Day First Aid at Work Course. Both of these courses can be delivered directly to you in your workplace. Call us directly on 0800 774 7034 to discuss your requirements.