Emergency advice


  1. Treat the cause of shock.
  2. Lie them down with raised legs.
  3. Call 999.
  4. Loosen tight clothing.
  5. Keep them calm and warm.

What is shock?

Shock can be caused by anything that reduces the flow of blood, such as:

  • severe internal or external bleeding
  • heart problems, such as a heart attack, or heart failure
  • loss of body fluids, from dehydration, diarrhoea, vomiting, or burns
  • severe allergic reactions and overwhelming infection (septic shock)
  • spinal cord injury.

Signs and symptoms

Look for:

  • pale skin, which may be cold and clammy
  • sweating
  • fast pulse - as shock gets worse
  • fast, shallow breathing
  • a weak pulse
  • grey blue skin, especially inside the lips (with drak skin, look at the palms of the hands and the base of the feet)
  • nausea and possible vomiting
  • restlessness and aggressive behaviour - as the brain's oxygen supply decreases
  • yawning and gasping for air
  • the casualty could become unresponsive.

What to do

  1. shock step 2

    Then help the casualty to lie down. Raise the casualty’s legs, supporting them on a chair, as this will help to improve the blood supply to their vital organs.

    • If available, lay them down on a rug or blanket to protect them from the cold.
  2. shock step 2

    Call 999 or 112 for emergency help and tell ambulance control you think they are in shock. If possible, explain what you think caused it.

  3. Loosen clothing

    Loosen any tight clothing around the neck, chest, and waist to make sure it doesn’t constrict their blood flow.

  4. place blanket over patient

    While waiting for help to arrive, cover them with a coat or blanket to help keep them warm.

    • Remember, fear and pain can make shock worse by increasing the body’s demand for oxygen, so try to reassure the casualty and keep them calm if you can.
  5. monitor patient

    Monitor their level of response.

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