Uncontrolled bleeding is the number one cause of preventable death from trauma. The greater the number of people who know how to control bleeding in an injured patient, the greater the chances of surviving that injury. By learning what you should do in case of an emergency bleeding situation, you could save someone’s life… including your own!
What to Do in a Traumatic Bleeding Situation
Step 1 Call 9-1-1
If possible, call 911 or have someone else make the call. This will get trained first responders on the scene as soon as possible.
Step 2 Find the Source of the Bleeding
Figure out the source of the bleeding and remove any clothing that is on the wound. By removing clothing, you can more easily identify any “life threatening” bleeding. Life-threatening bleeding is any wound where blood is spurting out or the blood will not stop. You can also identify life-threatening bleeding where clothing or bandages are blood soaked. Another indicator of life threatening bleeding is the victim that is unconscious or confused.
Step 3 Compress the Wound
There are a number of methods that can be used to stop bleeding and they all have one thing in common — compression. This means quite simply, compressing the blood vessel in order to stop the bleeding. It is best if you have access to ta trauma kit, like the ZOLL Mobilize (available from Rescue One). If you do, use a tourniquet to stop flow of blood by placing it above the wound. If you do not have a trauma kit, you can apply compression by using a clean cloth and apply pressure by pressing directly on the wound with both hands. Apply direct pressure to the wound until medical assistance can arrive.
The American College of Surgeons has a great downloadable Stop the Bleed Booklet that walks you through each step of the process.
The Mayo Clinic provides the following steps to dealing with a severe bleeding situation.
For severe bleeding, take these first-aid steps and reassure the injured person.
- Remove any clothing or debris on the wound. Don’t remove large or deeply embedded objects. Don’t probe the wound or attempt to clean it yet. Your first job is to stop the bleeding. Wear disposable protective gloves if available.
- Stop the bleeding. Place a sterile bandage or clean cloth on the wound. Press the bandage firmly with your palm to control bleeding. Apply constant pressure until the bleeding stops. Maintain pressure by binding the wound with a thick bandage or a piece of clean cloth. Don’t put direct pressure on an eye injury or embedded object. Secure the bandage with adhesive tape or continue to maintain pressure with your hands. If possible, raise an injured limb above the level of the heart.
- Help the injured person lie down. If possible, place the person on a rug or blanket to prevent loss of body heat. Calmly reassure the injured person.
- Don’t remove the gauze or bandage. If the bleeding seeps through the gauze or other cloth on the wound, add another bandage on top of it. And keep pressing firmly on the area.
- Tourniquets: A tourniquet is effective in controlling life-threatening bleeding from a limb. Apply a tourniquet if you’re trained in how to do so. When emergency help arrives, explain how long the tourniquet has been in place.
- Immobilize the injured body part as much as possible. Leave the bandages in place and get the injured person to an emergency room as soon as possible.