Check and Treat for Shock
2-21. Causes and Effects
a. Shock may be caused by severe or minor trauma to the
body. It usually is the result of--
- Significant loss of blood.
- Heart failure.
- Severe and painful blows to the body.
- Severe burns of the body.
- Severe wound infections.
- Severe allergic reactions to drugs, foods, insect stings,
b. Shock stuns and weakens the body. When the normal
blood flow in the body is upset, death can result. Early identification
and proper treatment may save the casualty's life.
c. See FM 8-230 for further information and details on
specific types of shock and treatment.
2-22. Signs/Symptoms (081-831-1000)
Examine the casualty to see if he has any of the following signs/symptoms:
- Sweaty but cool skin (clammy skin).
- Paleness of skin.
- Restlessness, nervousness.
- Loss of blood (bleeding).
- Confusion (or loss of awareness).
- Faster-than-normal breathing rate.
- Blotchy or bluish skin (especially around the mouth and lips).
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
2-23. Treatment/Prevention (081-831-1005)
In the field, the procedures to treat shock are identical
to procedures that would be performed to prevent shock.
When treating a casualty, assume that shock is present or will
occur shortly. By waiting until actual signs/symptoms of shock
are noticeable, the rescuer may jeopardize the casualty's life.
|a. Position the Casualty. (DO
NOT move the casualty or his limbs if suspected fractures have
not been splinted. See Chapter 4 for
A casualty in shock after suffering a heart attack, chest
wound, or breathing difficulty,
may breathe easier in a sitting
position. If this is the case, allow him to sit upright, but
carefully in case his condition worsens.
(3) Elevate the casualty's feet higher than the level of his heart.
Use a stable object (a box, field pack, or rolled up clothing)
so that his feet will not slip off (Figure 2-44).
DO NOT elevate legs if the casualty has an unsplinted broken
leg, head injury, or abdominal injury. (See task 081-831-1034,
Splint a Suspected Fracture, and task 081-831-1025, Apply
a Dressing to an Open Abdominal Wound.)
Check casualty for leg fracture(s) and splint, if necessary,
before elevating his feet. For a casualty with an abdominal wound,
place knees in an upright (flexed) position.
(4) Loosen clothing at the neck, waist,
or wherever it may be binding.
DO NOT LOOSEN OR REMOVE protective clothing in a chemical environment.
(5) Prevent chilling or overheating. The
key is to maintain body temperature. In cold weather, place a
blanket or other like item over him to keep him warm and under
him to prevent chilling (Figure 2-45).
However, if a tourniquet has been applied, leave it exposed (if
possible). In hot weather, place the casualty in the shade and
avoid excessive covering.
(6) Calm the casualty. Throughout the
entire procedure of treating and caring for a casualty, the rescuer
should reassure the casualty and keep him calm. This can be done
by being authoritative (taking charge) and by showing self-confidence.
Assure the casualty that you are there to help him.
|b. Food and/or Drink. During
the treatment/prevention of shock, DO NOT give the casualty any
food or drink. If you must leave the casualty or if he is unconscious,
turn his head to the side to prevent him from choking should he
vomit (Figure 2-46).|
c. Evaluate Casualty. If necessary, continue with the
1. American Heart Association
(AHA). Instructor's Manual for Basic Life
Support (Dallas: AHA, 1987), p. 37.
4. Ibid., p. 38
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