Advice for first aiders responding to harness suspension incidents
Following completion of an evidence
based review of published medical literature, HSE has clarified guidance on the
first aid management of a person falling into suspension in a harness who may
develop 'suspension trauma'.
The key recommendations are:
No change should be made to the standard first aid guidance for the post
recovery of a semi-conscious or unconscious person in a horizontal position,
even if the subject of prior harness suspension.
No change should be made to the standard UK first aid guidance of ABC
management, even if the subject of prior harness suspension. A casualty who is
experiencing pre-syncopal symptoms or who is unconscious whilst suspended in a
harness should be rescued as soon as is safely possible.
If the rescuer is unable to immediately release a conscious casualty from a
suspended position, elevation of the legs by the casualty or rescuer where
safely possible may prolong tolerance of suspension.
First responders to persons in harness suspension should be able to recognise
the symptoms of pre-syncope. 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. (Motionless head up
suspension can lead to pre-syncope in most normal subjects within 1 hour and in
a fifth within 10 minutes.)