How to Deal With a Broken Bone Emergency

After call the emergency services and before emergency responders arrive on the scene, there may be some steps you can take in the event of a broken bone.


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    Seek emergency aid. Answer all the dispatcher's questions. If there are other people on scene, recruit their help. Ask if anyone is first aid or medically trained. If there is someone nearby who has more experience or knowledge, allow them to take over care.
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    Assess the situation. Do not move the injured person unless it is far too dangerous to remain in the area. Check for breathing and a heartbeat. Check for signs of shock, which include clammy skin (sweaty but cold), paleness, restlessness, nervousness, thirst, severe bleeding, confusion, rapid breath, blotchy or bluish skin, nausea, and vomiting.
    • If the injured person is having difficulty breathing or bleeding severely, attend to those problems first, even if is necessary to move the injured person to do so. Life threatening trauma must be addressed as quickly as possible. Treatment of fractures can usually wait until after life-threatening conditions are addressed.
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    Apply ice to the area if possible to try to bring down the swelling. Wrap the ice in some sort of fabric, such as a towel, or use water mixed with ice in a bag.
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    If you have first aid training and emergency services are not close by, you can splint the injured area to immobilize it.
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    Until emergency services arrive, try to keep the injured calm and still. Do not let the person move, as this may increase damage and worsen an injury. If there was a fall, there may also be other undetected injuries that could be disturbed by movement.


  • Attempt to stay calm yourself. If you are not calm, the injured individual will become increasingly panicked.
  • Immobilise the area with a well padded stiff support reaching joints on either side.


  • The best way to "splint" fractures while awaiting EMS is usually to have the person lay down where they are (if the environment is safe) and rest quietly while EMS is en route.
  • Do not attempt a splint if you don't know how to make and apply one. You could disrupt the area further by improperly placing a splint or moving the victim.
  • Do not touch the injured area if you can help it. This could make the injury worse and put the victim in increased amounts of pain.
  • If emergency medical system (EMS) personnel are on the way, it is usually best to reassure the injured person, urge them to move as little as possible, but NOT apply a splint. The EMS providers will probably have to remove the split in order to assess the injury, which will only result in a delay transporting the patient.

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Categories: First Aid and Emergencies