Moving a casualty

A casualty is moved with care

The condition of a collapsed or injured person may be made worse by movement, increasing pain, injury, blood loss and shock. However, a person lying in a hazardous area – for example on a road or railway, may need to be moved to ensure safety.

A rescuer should move a person when needed to:

  • Ensure the safety of both the rescuer and the person in need
  • Protect from extreme weather conditions
  • Enable evacuation from difficult terrain
  • Enable the care of airway and breathing
  • Enable the control of severe bleeding 

It is reasonable to roll a face-down unresponsive person onto their back to assess airway and breathing and initiate resuscitation. Concern for protecting the neck should not hinder the evacuation process or lifesaving procedures.

Ideally, the most experienced rescuer should take charge and stay with the person in need while another rescuer is sent to seek help. If movement is necessary and help is available, the rescuer in charge should explain clearly and simply the method of movement to the assistants, and to the person in need if they are conscious.

When ready to move a person in need:

  • Avoid bending or twisting the person’s neck and back: A spinal injury can be aggravated by rough handling.
  • Try to have three or more people to assist in the support of the head and neck, the chest, pelvis and limbs while moving the person.
  • Use a spine board if available.
  • A single rescuer may need to drag the person. Either an ankle drag or arm/shoulder drag is acceptable.
  • Make prompt arrangements for transport by ambulance to hospital.

Moving and transferring a casualty takes a great deal of care and cautionary preparation. Take into account the above information when moving and transferring a casualty to ensure for a safe and low-impact moving manoeuvre.




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