Nothing to do with shock, other than you don't want to experience it here at 12,000'

I’m shocked!

No, not emotional shock.  Nor are we talking about electric shock.  This is a serious medical condition that affects the entire body and can be the result of almost any trauma or illness.  Which is why I’m writing about it :-) .

“Shock is inadequate perfusion, a condition that results when the brain and other body cells are not getting a sufficient flow of oxygenated blood.  It can occur from a great variety of injuries and illnesses, including blood loss, dehydration, a heart attack, spinal cord damage, and a severe allergic reaction.  Whatever the cause, most shock patients share similar signs and symptoms.”  (Tilton, Backcountry First Aid, 2007)

So, essentially the body is shutting itself down to keep oxygenated blood in the heart, lungs, and brain.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Change in level of consciousness
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Pale, cool, and clammy skin

Here’s what to do:

  • Get medical help!  Or begin your evacuation plan
  • Treat the cause (e.g. severe bleeding)
  • Calm the patient
  • Have them lie down and elevate their legs 6-12 inches if there is no sign of spinal injury
  • Keep them comfortable and monitor vitals continuously

If your patient slips into unconsciousness, decompensatory shock may be settling in, and a rapid evacuation is necessary.

Stay tuned for Part IV…


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