Serious Bleeding

Serious bleeding is described as any bleeding that will not stop with direct pressure within 10 minutes, bleeding that "spurts" before pressure is applied and is likely arterial bleeding, a wound that is longer than 1 inch in length and deep enough to see the fat under the skin, and any time you feel that the bleeding is serious that may not be described here. 

Blood loss will quickly cause a victim to become unstable and significant blood loss will cause hypovolemic shock, organ damage, loss of consciousness, cardiac arrest and death; not necessarily in this order. Therefore the most important part of any first aid for a bleeding victim is to stop the flow of blood.

  • Step one is direct pressure, directly onto the wound and hold it. Do not stop holding pressure. If you are the only person present and the victim is capable, let them help hold pressure while you retrieve your first aid kit. If you have other's present, continue hold pressure why a helper retrieves a first aid kit. 
  • If possible, elevate the level of the wound above the level of the victim's heart.
  • Ready a large sterile dressing to place over the wound.
  • Ready a roll of gauze or a triangular bandage to use to hold the dressing onto the wound with pressure.
  • Quickly remove your hand and place a large dressing onto the wound and return pressure with your hand over the dressing.
  • Have a helper carefully fold a triangular bandage into a long narrow bandage or ready to roll gauze onto the wound dressing.
  • Without removing your hand as much as practical, work to cover the dressing with the triangular bandage or by unrolling the gauze.
  • Tie the bandage or gauze in a manner to maintain pressure over the dressing and wound, with the knot directly over the wound.
  • Make certain the victim is laying down and if possible, attempt to elevate the site of the wound above the level of the heart.

If bleeding continues and soaks through the first dressing and bandage, DO NOT REMOVE THE DRESSING TO REPLACE IT.

  • Place second dressing directly on top of the bandage and dressing first placed, and wrap another bandage over the top of it.
  • If bleeding is still not controlled and advanced medical help is more than 15 minutes away, you will need to hold manual pressure directly over the wound and all dressing placed until medical help arrives.
  • In addition apply Digital Pressure if possible to the artery feeding the site of the wound.
    • Digital Pressure uses "Pressure Points" (See Pressure Points Below) to control bleeding using fingers, thumbs, or hands to compress the main artery sites supplying the wound area.
  • If bleeding is not controlled and advanced help is more than 30 minutes away, you may need to apply a tourniquet for extremity wounds to stop the bleeding.
    • Tourniquets are always a last resort and only used if serious bleeding is not controlled AND there is a real danger the victim will bleed to death as a result of their wound.

​Digital Pressure Points To Control Bleeding

​Folding a Triangular Bandage for a narrow wrap

​Improvised Tourniquet Application

​Rapid Tourniquet Application (RAT) - You should have one of these in your first aid kit!


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