In a medical emergency call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

The DRSABCD Action Plan is the first step when providing first aid. Use this to assess the immediate situation. DRSABCD Danger > Response > Send for help > Airway > Breathing > CPR > Defibrillation.

• It can be difficult to tell whether an injury is a fracture, dislocation, sprain or strain. If in doubt, always treat as a fracture.
• DO NOT try to force a broken bone back into place.


Signs and symptoms
• Pain or tenderness at or near the site of the injury
• Swelling
• Deformity
• Discolouration, redness, bruising
• Loss of function
• The patient felt or heard the break occur
• A coarse grating sound is heard or felt as bones rub together.

What to do
1. Follow DRSABCD.
2. Ask the patient to remain as still as possible.
3. Control any bleeding, cover any wounds and check for other fractures.
4. Immobilise the broken bone by placing a padded splint along the injured limb.
5. Secure the splint by passing the bandages above and below the break to prevent movement. Tie the bandages firmly and away from the injured side.
6. For a leg fracture, also immobilise the foot and ankle. Support the limb while bandaging.
7. Check that the bandages are not too tight and watch for signs of loss of circulation to the limb every 15 minutes.
8. Seek medical aid.


Signs and symptoms
• Pain at or near the site of the injury
• Difficulty or inability to move the joint
• Abnormal mobility of the limb
• Loss of power
• Deformity (such as an abnormal lump or depression)
• Tenderness
• Swelling
• Discolouration and bruising.

What to do
1. Follow DRSABCD.
2. Rest and support the limb using soft padding and bandages.
• For a shoulder injury, support the arm as comfortably as possible.
• For a wrist injury, support the wrist in a sling.
3. Apply a cold pack directly over the injured joint, if possible.
4. Seek medical aid.
5. Check circulation of the limb. If circulation is absent, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance. Massage the limb gently to try to restore circulation.

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All content in Sonder's Help Centre is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Information originally published by St John Ambulance Australia.

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