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First Aid for Crush Injury – Symptoms And Causes

crush injury

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A crush injury may result from various emergencies, including vehicle collisions, falling debris, or industrial accidents. Any situation that results in prolonged pressure on a certain body part can cause this type of injury.

Without immediate and effective intervention, a crush injury can disrupt the body’s chemistry and result in heart, breathing & kidney failure. Hence, first aid treatment is vital.

What Is A Crush Injury

A crush injury occurs when a part of the body is subjected to a high force or pressure, usually after being squeezed or crushed between two heavy objects. When the blood flow is restricted by a heavyweight, there is a danger of a build-up of toxins within the affected limb.

As a result of compressions, the muscle cells may suffer from serious damage resulting in organ dysfunction, renal failure, and crush syndrome.

Crush syndrome refers to the multiple complications that may subsequently develop as a result of crush injuries to limbs, particularly the legs. The likelihood of developing this syndrome is directly related to the compression time of how long a body part has been tapped.

After a crushing force, an injury should be suspected whenever a part of the body is compressed. Take note that the symptoms may vary – some may experience excruciating pain while others may not have any complaints or external signs of injury.

This can make dealing with crushing injuries challenging at times.

Signs And Symptoms

Some or all of the following signs and symptoms may be present after a crushing injury:

  • Bleeding and bruising at the site of injury
  • Swelling
  • Fracture or broken bone
  • Nerve injury
  • Intense pain
  • Numbness, pins-and-needles, or electricity-like sensations
  • Laceration (open wound)
  • Infection from bacteria
  • Persistent and deep ache in the affected area

Any person subjected to crush injury must be taken to the hospital for immediate investigation or follow-up care.

Management Of Crush Injuries

Follow the basic first aid plan when providing treatment to a crushed victim.

Assess The Scene

Ensure the scene is safe and there is no risk of injury to the victim, bystanders, and yourself. Only approach the person once it is safe for you to do so.

Call Emergency Services

Call triple zero (000) or ask other bystanders in the area to call an ambulance while you attend to the victims.

If help is not immediately available, consider removing the crushed object if it is safe and physically possible to do so. Apply a tourniquet above the site of injury prior to lifting the object. Using a tourniquet will help prevent the sudden release of toxins into the circulatory system.

(Note: A tourniquet should only be used to control life-threatening bleeding. If it’s not applied properly, it can make things worse as it can occlude the veins.

Control External Bleeding

Stop the bleeding by applying direct pressure to the injury. Cover the area using a clean cloth or wet bandage. Then, raise the affected area above the heart level, if possible.

If a head, neck, or spinal injury is suspected, immobilize those areas and limit movement to only the crushed area.

Monitor Their Condition

Minor the patient’s condition and provide reassurance while waiting for emergency services to arrive.

Crush injury requires immediate action to prevent complications and achieve the best outcomes.

Learn More

First Aid Darwin offers a series of blogs relating to health and safety that might help you deal with everyday emergencies.

As one of Australia’s trusted first aid providers, we also deliver a wide range of first aid and CPR courses in training venues across the country. Our courses include content on DRSABCD, wound care management, crush injury treatment, and many more.

Visit our course page for more information.

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