St John Ambulance offers advice on dealing with fractures

Members of the St John Ambulance team. Picture: St John Ambulance.

Members of the St John Ambulance team. Picture: St John Ambulance. - Credit: Archant

St John Ambulance in the East Region has teamed up with The Journal to give some simple but life saving first aid tips.

This week we look at fractures.

A break or crack in a bone is called a fracture. In an open fracture a broken bone may pierce the skin surface. But in a closed fracture the skin around the fracture is intact. However, broken bones may be unstable causing internal bleeding and the casualty may develop shock.

What to look for:

1. Deformity, swelling and bruising around the fracture

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2. Pain and or difficulty moving the area

3. A limb may look shorter, twisted or bent

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4. A grating noise or feeling from the ends of the broken bones

5. Difficult or unable to move the limb normally

6. A wound that may have a bone end protruding, known as an open fracture

7. May develop signs of shock, particularly with the fracture of a thigh bone or pelvis.

What to do:

1. If it is an open fracture, cover the wound with a sterile dressing or a clean non-fluffy cloth. Apply pressure around the wound and not over the protruding bone, to control any bleeding. Then secure the dressing with a bandage

2. Advise the casualty to keep still while you support the injured part to stop it from moving. Do this by holding the joint above and below the injured area

3. Place padding around the injury for extra support

4. Once you've done this, call 999 or 112 for emergency help. Do not move the casualty until the injured part is secured, unless they are in immediate danger. You can secure an upper limb fracture with a sling and a lower limb fracture with broad fold bandages

5. If necessary treat for shock, but do not raise the injured leg. Monitor their breathing and level of response while waiting for help to arrive.

For those looking for quick, easily accessible first aid information, the St John Ambulance app is available free on smartphones and online at, offering videos, an interactive game, and lots of free advice. For more information about first aid courses, call 08700 10 49 50.

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