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Understanding Emergency Nursing Procedures

Nurses need to be ready for anything and able to rely on a cool head and calm reactions to ensure they make the right call and provide the right assistance

Understanding emergency nursing procedures

Nurses are often on the frontline of healthcare provision and have to be well-versed in a variety of emergency procedures.  Here, we take a look at a few of the most common emergency nursing procedures in greater depth and discuss what you should and shouldn’t do in certain situations.

Controlling bleeding

Wounds need to be treated properly if loss of blood is to be minimised and for the cut to remain uninfected. The first step with most wounds is to clean it as thoroughly as possible. By doing this, the risk of infection and other complications, such as tetanus, is limited. Nurses would then attempt to stop the bleeding by applying clean gauze or cloth to the affected area. If the bleeding is so severe that it soaks through this first layer, another layer should be added without the first being removed.

Spinal injuries

Spinal injuries can be extremely dangerous and responses are limited by a desire not to move the victim in case this causes further injury. Consequently, it’s first necessary to check the victim’s airway and breathing and to control any bleeding. This process is referred to as the ABCs (Airway, Breathing, Control bleeding). 

If you believe someone has a spinal injury, it’s important that you try and prevent any movement of the head by supporting it with cushions, clothing or anything soft but sturdy. It’s also vital that you do not remove headwear, such as helmets, if they’re wearing any. If moving the victim is absolutely essential, it will require two people. One to support the head and another to move the body. The two should always keep the head aligned with the neck and back.


If someone is choking, most people will know that they should perform a procedure known as the Heimlich Manoeuvre. Whether they know how to do it is another matter entirely. However, with all airway obstructions, the first step should be to try and dislodge the object with five blows to the middle of the victim’s back with the heel of the hand. If this doesn’t work, the Heimlich Manoeuvre should then be employed. This is performed by making a fist and placing the thumb above the belly button and just below the ribcage. Your other hand is wrapped around this fist and then they’re both brought in and upwards with a quick thrust.


If a victim is unconscious it’s important to first check their ABCs and then administer proper treatment. If the signs from the ABC check are all negative, then CPR should be performed by a qualified CPR care giver. Otherwise, the victim should be moved into the recovery position to ensure that they don’t choke and that all liquids drain from the mouth. You should never leave the victim on their own and it may be a good idea to cover them with a blanket while you wait for further assistance. It’s important to be aware of signs or indications that the victim is suffering from shock during this time. 


Burns can be very difficult to treat and require quick and efficient action if the damage is to be minimised. In order to properly treat the affected area, you should follow the three ‘Cs.’ First Cool the burn. This involves washing or submerging the burn in flowing water for a minimum of fifteen minutes but ideally no more than twenty. If the burn is chemical based, it should be washed for around an hour.
Next, Clear the area. This means removing all objects that aren’t stuck to the skin and may cause problems if they’re not taken off. Finally, Cover. Here, you need to cover the burn with a dressing that won’t stick to the wound.


Though heatstroke is not often thought of as a life-threatening illness, it can result in death if not properly treated. While extra medical attention should be requested immediately, it’s possible to take a number of helpful steps as you wait. The main concern is cooling the victim down, so it’s a good idea to wrap them cold or wet material, such as a bed sheet. If possible, you could also submerge them in a water source or cold bath. 


Our last emergency procedure covers what to do in case of shock. After requesting additional medical attention and checking the ABCs, you should treat any bleeding and then, if possible, place the victim in the shock position. This position involves raising the legs and feet, turning their head to one side and making sure the victim is as warm and comfortable as possible. If spinal injury is suspected, the victim should not be moved unless absolutely necessary.