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    SUSPENSION TRAUMA FIRST AID GUIDANCE

    Recommendations on response to suspension in harness

    The Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) reviewed the advice and guidance available on suspension trauma to consider whether the current information and advice available for treating suspension trauma casualties is adequate and in line with current practice and recommendations.

    The requirement for this work arose because first aid training organisations and first aiders were not clear about the correct positioning of rescued casualties in the event of a harness suspension situation.

    HSL found that there is little scientific published literature regarding the circumstances and consequences of harness suspension, and none that tests the effect of sitting a rescued casualty in the semi-recumbent posture that some authors have suggested.

    HSL recommend:

    • Rescue Position and First Aid – there should be no change in the current UK postition on rescue recovery and first aid of a semi-conscious or unconscious person even if the subject of prior harness suspension i.e. horizontal recovery position and ABC first aid management;
    • Speed of Rescue – a casualty experiencing symptoms suggesting they might collapse or who is unconscious whilst suspended in a harness, should be rescued as soon as is safely possible;
    • Leg Elevation – if the rescuer is unable to immediately release a conscious casualty from a suspended position, elevation of the legs by the casualty or rescuers where safely possible may prolong tolerance of suspension and;  
    • Symptom Recognition – first responders to persons in harness suspension should be able to recognise the symptoms that a person might collapse. These include light-headedness; nausea; sensations of flushing; tingling or numbness of the arms or legs; anxiety; visual disturbance; or a feeling they are about to faint.

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    The addition of content on this website ceased on 17th April 2020.

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