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How To Treat an Impaled Object


Updated June 16, 2014

Impaled objects are items that have punctured the body's soft-tissue and are still embedded. Depending on the location of the impalement and the size of the object, emergency medical response may be necessary. The course of treatment depends on several factors, but here are the basics steps to treat an impaled object.

Difficulty: Hard

Time Required: N/A

Here's How:

  1. Stay Safe. It's important to remain safe while helping a victim with an impaled object. Sharp objects, such as knives or nails, are not only capable of causing an injury to rescuers, but are also contaminated with the victim's blood. Follow universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment if you have it.


  2. Call 911. Because of their complicated nature, even seemingly minor impaled objects require emergency medical response.


  3. DO NOT REMOVE IMPALED OBJECT! Impaled objects create a puncture wound and then tamponade (put pressure on) that same wound, controlling bleeding. However, as with every rule, there are exceptions. Impaled objects may be removed if:
    • the victim needs CPR and the object is in the way
    • the object is in the way of the victim's airway
    If an impaled object must be removed, follow the steps to control bleeding.


  4. If an ambulance is not available or the victim must be moved, it will be necessary to secure the object. Start by shortening the object if possible. The more of an object that sticks out of the body, the more leverage it has to do damage to surrounding tissues.


  5. After the object is as short as possible, secure it to prevent movement. The more movement of the impaled object, the more soft-tissue damage it does and the more bleeding it will cause.


  6. Follow the steps for basic first aid.
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