Shock is a lack of oxygen to the tissues of the body, usually caused by a fall in blood pressure or a major bleed.


  • The body’s first response is a release of adrenaline, which will:
    • Cause a rise in pulse rate
    • Pale, clammy skin (for dark skinned casualties look at the colour of the skin inside the lips)
  • As the condition worsens:
    • Fast, shallow breathing
    • Rapid, weak pulse
    • Cyanosis (grey blue tinge to skin and lips)
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Sweating

So what can I do about it?

  1. Treat the cause of the shock (e.g external bleeding)
  2. Lay the casualty down. If there is no sign of leg injury then elevate the legs
  3. Keep the casualty warm – if they are on a cold surface, place a blanket or coat underneath them.
  4. Do not allow to eat, drink or smoke!
  5. Loosen tight clothing
  6. Monitor breathing, pulse and levels of response
  7. Be prepared to resuscitate

If you are unsure, call 999!


Want to know more? Attend a training course which covers this topic:

QA Level 3 Award in First Aid at Work (QCF)
QA Level 2 Award in Emergency First Aid At Work (QCF)
QA Level 2 Award In Basic Life Support and Safe Use of an Automated External Defibrillator (QCF)
QA Level 2 Award in Basic Life Support and Management of Anaphylaxis (QCF)
QA Level 3 Award in Paediatric First Aid (QCF)

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