How to Treat Crush Injuries: First Aid Treatment

Major crush injuries are life-threatening situations and will require early specialist help to safely extricate and treat the victim. A major crush injury occurs when a large part of the body (for example, the chest) is crushed. An example of this is a victim trapped underneath a car following a motor vehicle collision. These victims often have multiple injuries and require advanced medical help at the scene of the incident, so never delay in calling for EMS. Minor crush injuries, such as fingers or toes, often occur in the workplace or when performing projects at home. A crush injury can be complicated by bleeding or a fracture of the bones underneath the skin.

Be aware that victims of major crush injuries are at risk of developing crush injury syndrome. This syndrome occurs when a major crush injury causes the buildup of toxins in the damaged tissue. When the object causing the crush is removed, and pressure on the injury is released, these toxins spread through the body and can cause fatal heart abnormalities and kidney damage. As a result, a major crush injury victim can quickly deteriorate after the crushing object has been removed.

First Aid Treatment for a Major Crush Injury

1. Ensure the scene is safe for you to approach.

2. Call EMS.

3. If safe to do so, release the pressure on the crush injury victim as soon as possible.

4. Look for and treat any severe bleeding found.

5. Monitor for shock, monitor vital signs, and provide reassurance until the arrival of EMS.

If the victim has been trapped for a long time, releasing pressure may lead to the development of crush injury syndrome and the victim may quickly deteriorate. If a victim has been trapped for a prolonged period, communicate with the EMS operator and seek expert advice.