Shock is defined as a lack of oxygen to the body’s tissues. This can be caused in lots of different ways, and there are lots of different types of shock. The first one is hypovolemic shock. This is a lack of content of blood in your system. You can have neurogenic shock, this could be a problem within the brain; cardiogenic shock, a problem around the heart. The type of shock we are looking at now is hypovolemic shock. In this scenario, you’ve been putting a dressing on somebody that maybe lost a lot of blood.
Inside their vessels, there’s less blood flying around, there’s less oxygen, therefore, being transferred around the body. Their heart is going to start being much faster because your heart is trying to pump this blood around. There’s just not enough content there. Although the heart beats very rapid, there’s not so much blood being pumped with every beat, so you get what’s called a rapid but weak pulse. They’re also going to start to look a little bit blue, grey around the lips and the extremities because there’s not enough oxygen going around. They’re going to become very stressed, they’re going to start sweating and also going to be feeling very dizzy, unwell, nauseous and maybe even vomiting.
If you get to a situation where someone says they are feeling unwell, like this, you’re going to need to lay them down. You want to get them off of a chair onto the floor because if they collapse on the chair, they could potentially injure themselves even more. And the important thing here is we need to get more volume of blood into the body and the brain. The one area you’ve got a lot of blood to spare, well, not really used in this example, would be your legs. By laying somebody down and elevating their legs, spare blood will be flowing from the legs into the body and the brain, which will short-term keep that person feeling much better and keeping them alive. What we do is we just find some way to elevate their legs 15 to 30 cm. This is enough to strain the blood back into the body. The important thing then is to maintain the person, keep a check on them, and also, because there’s not so much blood going around the body, we’re going to need to then cover them in a blanket or something to keep them warm.
Now, if you’ve got a blanket there, great. If you haven’t, you can use coats or clothing. Often in the BSI-type first aid kits, you’ll have a foil blanket. That’s something good, you can just wrap them all over and that will keep them nice and warm. Anybody going into shock, this is a 999 emergency. You need to call the emergency services. Even if by laying them down and elevating the leg, they start to feel better, you must call the emergency services and keep them there. Don’t get them up straight away, because all that will happen is straightaway they’ll end up feeling unwell again, and again, that can because of even more damage to them.
One other type of shock which is not so severe, but can be quite distressing, is fainting. Fainting happens because your brain if it hasn’t got enough oxygen in it, it’s going to start to feel dizzy or make you feel dizzy. And the reason it makes you feel dizzy is to try and get you to sit down or lay down. If there is quite a large lack of oxygen to the brain, your brain is going to say to you, we want you to lay down, so it will make you pass out. So, someone would faint. Once they faint and they land on the floor, typically, they’ll come round very, very quickly. But this is the same example. There’s not enough oxygen-rich blood into the body and the brain, so lift the legs up. Once you lift the legs up, that will start to make them feel much better. Again, cover them over, keep them warm. And if someone has fainted, it may not be necessary to call the emergency services. It may well be that you just leave them there for a while, when they start to feel better, get them up slowly. Maybe move from the laying position to a half seated, to a sat down, and then move them into a chair. Don’t get them to stand up straight away, ‘because if they stand up straight away, they’re just going to collapse again.
Although fainting, generally speaking, is not a serious medical condition, if someone is fainting regularly, then this would be something they’d need to go see their doctor about.