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What you can do if someone is in shock after an accident

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As we have outlined in previous posts, there are numerous steps to take after a car accident. These include getting your vehicle out of the way of traffic and contacting law enforcement and insurance companies.

Before authorities arrive and before you exchange contact information with the other parties, your first priority should be to keep accident victims safe while waiting for the ambulance to get to the scene. But what do you do if someone is seriously hurt and in shock?

Shock is a dangerous condition that can result from trauma, injuries and blood loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, shock occurs when a victim is not receiving enough oxygen or blood to the organs. This can result in organ damage or death if not treated.

What to look for

If you notice the following signs in a person after an accident, he or she may be experiencing shock:

  • Pale, ashen, cool and/or clammy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Quick pulse and rapid breathing
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Enlarged pupils

The person experiencing shock may also behave strangely. If the victim is someone you know, you might notice signs of panic, aggression or confusion that are unusual for the person.

What to do in case of shock

If you suspect an accident victim is suffering from shock, call 911 immediately. Then, have the person lie down in a safe place and slightly elevate his or her legs. Cover the person with a blanket if the skin is cold or clammy, and help him or her to remain still. If the person is bleeding, place firm pressure over the wound with a large cloth, such as a towel or jacket. Turn the person onto his or her side if he or she is vomiting, unless you are afraid there is a back or neck injury.

It can be frightening to witness people who are injured after an accident. However, keeping your cool and doing your best to comfort and keep them safe can save lives.

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