Suspension Trauma

Suspension Trauma

There’s been a lot of debate about Suspension Trauma also known as suspension intolerance, harness suspension trauma, harness hang syndrome, suspension syndrome, orthostatic intolerance and a few other names I’ve heard over the years.

Something else that has been debated is the first aid treatment. I’ve heard once again a variety of treatments, however when ask about it, most don’t know where the got the information from, they were just told it on their initial training, they googled it or simply its what is on the PowerPoint presentation so that’s what they tell the students.

This can be very dangerous as if you use an invalidated technique you could actually end up doing more harm to the casualty. One example I’ve heard often, even by medical professionals is for rescuers to maintain the victims in a sitting position and avoid laying them flat for 30 minutes. There is NO EVIDENCE to support this practice as a treatment of suspension trauma and it may be harmful. Care of the airway takes precedence over any injury. This is straight from the Australian Resuscitation Council  Guidelines in bold and outlined underneath the management of suspension trauma.

So just to clear it up this is straight from the Australian Resuscitation Council/Guidelines/Section 9.1.5 available from


Call for an ambulance (Dial Triple Zero – 000)

If unconscious, manage as per ARC Basic Life Support flow chart (Guideline 8)

Rest the conscious victim in a position of comfort, ideally lying down, and provide reassurance

Loosen or remove harness

Administer oxygen if available

Look for and manage associated injuries in all victims, but particularly victims who may have fallen or been electrocuted.

Monitor the signs of life at frequent intervals

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