Module 6: Shock


Physiological shock (Circulatory shock)

Physiological shock (Circulatory shock) is a life threatening condition that occurs when the body’s vital organs such as the heart and brain are deprived of oxygen due to a problem that effects the circulatory system.

Physiological shock can be caused by:

  • Severe bleeding (internally and externally)
  • Severe diarrhoea and vomiting (D and V)
  • Poisoning
  • Spinal trauma or injury
  • Head trauma
  • Heart attack


  • A visible associated wound
  • Pale, blue/grey, cold clammy skin
  • A rapid weak pulse
  • Rapid shallow breathing
  • Nausea and thirst


  • Treat the cause if apparent
  • Lay the casualty down on a flat surface and raise the legs; ensure the legs are above the level of the heart
  • Loosen tight clothing
  • Keep the casualty warm with a blanket
  • Monitor the casualty’s airway and breathing
  • Do not allow any food or drink (May induce vomiting)
  • Call for an ambulance (999/112)