Crush Injury

Student First Aid Crush Injury What to do

If a person is crushed or compressed by a heavy object, signs of injury include bleeding, fracture, shock, hypothermia, extreme pain or absence of pain. 

A crush injury can develop into "crush syndrome" when the compression of a body part disrupts the body's chemistry, triggering toxins that can cause heart, breathing and kidney failure.

The risk of a crush injury developing into crush syndrome increases with time, so removing the crushing force as quickly and safety as possible is a priority. If the compression time has exceeded more than one hour, the crushing force should be left in place until emergency responders have arrived.


1. Ensure safety for yourself and bystanders

2. Call Triple Zero (000) for emergency services

3. Remove the crushing force as quickly and safely as possible to avoid crush syndrome, unless it has impaled the patient

4. Control external bleeding and manage other wounds. Do not apply a tourniquet.

5. Keep patient warm and reassured.

6. Monitor breathing and consciousness, and prepare for CPR until emergency responders arrive.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the main difference between a crush injury and crush syndrome? A crush injury is a direct injury resulting from high force or pressure, eg.being squeezed between two heavy objects. Crush syndrome effects the whole body when a build up of toxins from prolonged crushing or pressure is released. Crush syndrome is a life-threatening condition requiring management by emergency responders.

What's the best way to keep the patient warm while waiting for help? It's likely that someone who is entrapped in a crushing incident will go into shock. Anything that can be sourced - blankets, towels, jackets - can be used to keep the patient warm, but a Thermal Shock Blanket is specifically designed to protect against heat and cold in emergency situations.