First aid tips – shock

When you think of shock, you may not necessarily see it as a serious medical condition. However, shock can be much more than feelings of emotional distress or a general feeling of being unwell. It happens when the vital organs like the heart and brain are deprived of oxygen, and it can sometimes be life threatening.

Identifying the signs of shock

To treat shock, you firstly need to be able to recognise it. Look for the following signs:

  • Cold or clammy skin
  • A rapid or very weak pulse
  • A very pale face, like all the blood has drained from it
  • Sighing or yawning
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Unconsciousness (in extreme cases)


To treat shock, the first thing to do is to remove or treat any possible causes of shock, if you can. Next, you need to help the person to lie down, ensuring that their legs are raised and supported. Clothes should be loosened, but the person should be kept warm. Once you’ve done this, you need to call 999 and request help.

Whilst this advice will help you to assist someone suffering from shock, you should remember that every case is different. Only the proper first aid training can give you the skills and knowledge you need to treat shock effectively.