Fractures (Broken Bones), Dislocation, Spinal Injury

Fractures, Dislocation, Spinal Injury


Traumatic Injuries During a Disaster

Many people sustain injuries during a disaster situation. Of course this is one of the worst times to break a bone or suffer some other traumatic injury as it’s often impossible or unsafe to attempt to get professional medical assistance.

Although the treatment of fractures, dislocation, and spinal injuries definitely needs to be done by a professional under normal circumstances, disaster situations are very often far from normal circumstances. You’re going to have to do the best you can given the circumstances.


Broken Bones

If you suspect that someone has suffered a broken bone during a disaster and you cannot get expert medical help, consider the following:

  • If the wound is bleeding, do your best to stop the bleeding by putting clean gauze or a clean towel on the injury and apply pressure until the bleeding stops.
  • Immobilize the injury with a splint or something similar. Don’t try to push anything back into place. Instead, just try to keep the injury still.
  • Ice packs can be applied to help limit the amount of swelling. Don’t put ice packs directly onto the skin. Instead, always wrap them in a towel or other cloth.



Dislocations can often happen during a disaster, be it a dislocated finger, knee, shoulder, or ankle. Dislocation can be very painful and will deform a joint often with severe swelling.

  • Get expert medical help if possible.
  • Immobilize the injury without trying to push the joint back into place as you could cause even more damage.
  • Put a little ice onto the injured joint to help reduce swelling. Remember to wrap the ice pack in a cloth or towel.


Spinal Injuries

Spinal injuries are a very serious business. One wrong move can cause untold and irreparable damage. Unfortunately, if someone has suffered a spinal injury during a disaster, it may not be possible to get the medical attention they need as quickly as it is needed. What can you do in case of a spinal injury during a natural disaster?

  • Don’t try to move the person. Keep them as still as possible. Use heavy towels or blankets on both sides of the neck and head to prevent any movement.
  • If the person is wearing a helmet, leave it where it is. Never try to remove it as you could cause more damage.
  • If the person begins to vomit or choke on blood and must be moved to their side, you ideally need another person to help you to move them. Work together as you roll the person onto their side to keep their head, neck and back in alignment.
  • Get medical help as soon as possible.