A person who is ill or injured may go into shock. Shock happens when the vital organs do not get enough oxygen-rich blood. Shock is a life-threatening condition.
Be on the lookout for a shock when providing care for any injury or sudden illness, or when someone has been involved in a serious incident (even if he or she is not badly injured). Shock is often caused by significant fluid loss, for example, diarrhea and vomiting. This is especially true in children, who can become dehydrated more easily.
Other causes of shock include the following
- Significant blood loss
- Heart damage
- Extensive burns
- Severe infection (e.g., septicemia)
What to Look For
The following are signs and symptoms of shock
- Cool, clammy skin
- Skin that is paler than normal
- Excessive thirst
- Rapid breathing
- Drowsiness or loss of responsiveness
- Nausea and vomiting
What to Do
The best thing you can do when a person is in shock is to call EMS/9-1-1. While you are waiting for EMS personnel to arrive, provide care by
- Caring for the cause of the shock.
- Having the person rest.
- Keeping the person warm.
- Monitoring the person’s ABCs.
- Providing comfort and reassurance.
Providing First Aid for Someone with a Disability
It is not uncommon to feel intimidated when providing first aid to a person who has different abilities, because there is often uncertainty about how to care for the person. Remember that people are more similar than they are different, both physiologically and psychologically, and most aspects of first aid care do not vary from person to person.
Remember that a person’s particular needs may not be visible and that the person (or the person’s direct caregiver) is the best source of information about his or her unique situation. If you are unsure, ask what you can do to help. The person is likely to appreciate your consideration.
General Tips for Providing First Aid to a Person with a Disability
Remember the following tips when providing care for a person with any type of disability.
- As with all first aid, you need permission to help and should explain what you intend to do. These basic principles do not change because the person has different abilities.
- Avoid stereotypes and make no assumptions about what abilities the person has or does not have. Remember that not all disabilities are visible.
- Be confident and reassuring.
- If you cannot understand what the person is saying, politely ask him or her to repeat it.
- Don’t touch or speak to service animals. They are working and have to pay attention at all times.
- Get permission before touching assistive devices, including wheelchairs.