School Nurse Emergency Highlight - Shock

A student can go into medical shock as a stress response to sudden injury, illness, pain or allergic reaction when a drop in blood pressure reduces the flow of oxygen and nutrients to vital organs. However in severe circumstances like significant blood loss, the body may not be able to cope with the reduced circulation and the effects of shock can become life threatening. 

Symptoms include low blood pressure, rapid heart rate and breathing, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, pale, cool and clammy skin, and loss of consciousness.

  1. Lay the student flat and control any bleeding 
  2. Use a thermal blanket to keep them warm 
  3. Call Triple Zero immediately and provide constant reassurance
  4. Administer CPR if the student stops breathing


Blanket Thermal Accident 185cm x 130cm

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes shock? Shock is the body’s defence response to trauma caused by, among other things: heatstroke, blood loss, allergic reaction, severe infection, poisoning, severe burns and other sudden and severe injury. 

What happens when a student is in shock? Their vital organs aren’t getting enough blood or oxygen. If untreated, this can lead to permanent organ or tissue damage, or death.

Can heavy sweating or dehydration cause shock? Yes, one cause of shock is loss of body fluids.

What is ‘non-medical’ shock? A ‘flight or fright’ response to anxiety or fear. Symptoms may resemble medical shock, but they’re usually short lived and will cease once the student is comforted or the reason for the fear is removed.

Should I give a student in shock anything to eat or drink? No, even if they complain of thirst. There is a risk of choking due to their digestive system slowing down, or loss of consciousness.

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