How to Stop the Bleed

Thomas Bliss First Aid Tips, Stop The Bleed Leave a Comment

How to Stop the Bleed

Today we live in a world where terrorism, the actions of unstable people, and the dangerous impulses of friends and relatives are very real and becoming increasingly more frequent.

Massive bleeding from any cause, but particularly from an active shooter or explosive event where a response is delayed can result in death. Similar to how the general public learns and performs CPR, the public must learn proper bleeding control techniques, including how to use their hands, dressings, and tourniquets. Victims can quickly die from uncontrolled bleeding, within five to 10 minutes.

However, anyone at the scene can act as immediate responder and save lives if they know what to do. BleedingControl.org supports President Barack Obama’s policy directive for national preparedness (Presidential Policy Directive 8), which targets preparedness as a shared responsibility of the government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and individual citizens.

BleedingControl.org is an initiative of the American College of Surgeons and the Hartford Consensus and contains diagrams, news, videos, and other resources contributed by a variety of other private and nonprofit partners to help prepare you in the event you are witness to one of these unspeakable events.

Our shared goal is to provide you with a one-stop, online resource to credible information on bleeding control. We hope you will never need to use this information, but if you do, at least you will have the assurance that the information is credible and timely.

The Event

  • Call 9-1-1 yourself

OR

  • Tell someone to call 9-1-1

Ensure Your Safety

  • Before you offer any help, you must ensure your own safety!
  • If you become injured, you will not be able to help the victim.
  • Provide care to the injured person if the scene is safe for you to do so.
  • If, at any time, your safety is threatened, attempt to remove yourself (and the victim if possible) from danger and find a safe location.
  • Protect yourself from blood-borne infections by wearing gloves, if available.

Look for Life-Threatening Bleeding

  • Find the source of bleeding
  • Open or remove the clothing over the wound so you can clearly see it. By removing clothing, you will be able to see injuries that may have been hidden or covered.
  • Look for and identify “life-threatening” bleeding. Examples include:
    • Blood that is spurting out of the wound.
    • Blood that won’t stop coming out of the wound.
    • Blood that is pooling on the ground.
    • Clothing that is soaked with blood.
    • Bandages that are soaked with blood.
    • Loss of all or part of an arm or leg.
    • Bleeding in a victim who is now confused or unconscious.

Compress and Control

Key Point

There are a number of methods that can be used to stop bleeding and they all have one thing in common—compressing a bleeding blood vessel in order to stop the bleeding.

If you don’t have a trauma first aid kit:

Direct PressureApply direct pressure on the wound (Cover the wound with a clean cloth and apply pressure by pushing directly on it with both hands)

  1. Take any clean cloth (for example, a shirt) and cover the wound.
  2. If the wound is large and deep, try to “stuff” the cloth down into the wound.
  3. Apply continuous pressure with both hands directly on top of the bleeding wound.
  4. Push down as hard as you can.
  5. Hold pressure to stop bleeding. Continue pressure until relieved by medical responders.

If you do have a trauma first aid kit:

For life-threatening bleeding from an arm or leg and a tourniquet is NOT available OR for bleeding from the neck, shoulder or groin:

  • Pack (stuff) the wound with a bleeding control (also called a hemostatic) gauze, plain gauze, or a clean cloth and then apply pressure with both hands
  1. Open the clothing over the bleeding wound. (A)
  2. Wipe away any pooled blood.
  3. Pack (stuff) the wound with bleeding control gauze (preferred), plain gauze, or clean cloth. (B)
  4. Apply steady pressure with both hands directly on top of the bleeding wound. (C)
  5. Push down as hard as you can.
  6. Hold pressure to stop bleeding. Continue pressure until relieved by medical responders.

Packing the Wound

For life-threatening bleeding from an arm or leg and a tourniquet is available:

  • Apply the tourniquet
  1. Wrap the tourniquet around the bleeding arm or leg about 2 to 3 inches above the bleeding site (be sure NOT to place the tourniquet onto a joint—go above the joint if necessary).
  2. Pull the free end of the tourniquet to make it as tight as possible and secure the free end. (A)
  3. Twist or wind the windlass until bleeding stops. (B)
  4. Secure the windlass to keep the tourniquet tight. (C)
  5. Note the time the tourniquet was applied. (D)

Note: A tourniquet will cause pain but it is necessary to stop life-threatening bleeding.

Using a Tourniquet

How to Use a Tourniquet Video

Instructions and photos have been taken from the Save a Life booklet. Download the booklet for additional information on how to stop the bleed.

Pons PT, Jacobs L. Save a life: What everyone should know to stop bleeding after an injury. Chicago, IL: American College of Surgeons; 2016.

Download the booklet