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Stop the Bleed

Very few people enjoy the sight of blood. But even if you can’t stomach it, you should know how to handle bleeding when it occurs.  After all, a person can bleed to death in less than 5 minutes.  If you know what to do, you can save a life.

Follow these simple steps from the “Stop the bleed” campaign to help:

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

Apply 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.
  2. Wipe away any pooled blood.
  3. Pack (stuff) the wound with bleeding control gauze (preferred), plain gauze, or clean cloth.
  4. Apply steady pressure with both hands directly on top of the bleeding wound.
  5. Push down as hard as you can.
  6. Hold pressure to stop bleeding. Continue pressure until relieved by medical responders.

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)

The Trauma Program at University of Utah Health, alongside the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma is leading the effort to save lives by teaching the civilian population to provide vital initial response to stop uncontrolled bleeding in emergency situations. This will be accomplished by the development of a comprehensive and sustainable bleeding control education and information program targeted to civilians that will inform, educate and empower not only the population of Utah, but the 300+million citizens of the United States.


About the author:

Zach Robinson MPA, EMT-P, is the Trauma Outreach/Injury Prevention Coordinator at University of Utah Hospital. Follow him on Twitter @UofUtrauma.

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