Severe blood loss – What can you do to stop this?

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When treating major bleed injuries, quick response is of the utmost importance. Methods used to stop blood loss depend on the cause of the injury and the part of the body affected. However, if you are dealing with external bleeding caused by a cut, tear or puncture wound and need to act immediately. You need to act quickly to prevent blood loss and further problems.

Steps to take to prevent severe blood loss

  • If the bleeding has been caused by a major injury or trauma, your first port of call is to dial 999. While waiting for assistance, remove any visible debris or dirt from the affected area. However, you should refrain from probing or removing any heavily embedded objects. It’s also important to avoid cleaning the wound, as this may aggravate it further. If possible, wear disposable gloves when treating bleeding injuries, and always make sure you wash your hands first to prevent infection.  
  • Your next move should be to wrap the wound in a sterile gauze bandage or clean cloth. Using your palm, hold the bandage down and apply direct pressure to the wound. Tying a folded triangular bandage around the injury is highly effective for maintaining steady pressure.
  • Make sure the wound is bound tightly and secure it with adhesive tape. For areas of the body where this is not possible, such as the groin, use a thick pad and apply pressure with your hands. However, if the injury involves the eye or an embedded object, avoid applying direct pressure.
  • If possible, help the patient lie down and elevate the wounded area above heart level to decrease blood flow. Raising the legs can also help to lessen the effects of shock. Do not move the limb if the injury involves a broken bone though.
  • If the bleeding starts to seep through the original bandage, don’t remove it. Instead, use another piece of gauze or bandage and keep applying firm pressure to the wound. Be careful not to over-wrap the injury though – bulky dressing can actually lessen the effects of pressure. If the injured person has pale, cold skin, or they complain of a persistent feeling of numbness, it’s likely that the bandage is too tight.
  • If you are trained to do so, you can also use a tourniquet to help prevent severe bleeding from a limb. Tourniquets should only be used as a last resort to save a life. If applied incorrectly, it can lead to further injury, or even loss of limbs.

Blood loss

After the bleeding has stopped

Once the bleeding is under control, maintain pressure until you are certain it has completely stopped. Leaving the bandages on, you can then immobilise the injured area and wait for emergency medical help to arrive.

You should also call for emergency help if you suspect internal bleeding, as this will require prompt medical assistance. Symptoms of internal bleeding are less obvious than external injuries and may include bleeding from a body opening, bruising, blood in vomit, a swollen stomach, cold and clammy skin, excessive perspiration, fractures and a weak pulse.

In most cases, you should be able to control bleeding with direct pressure. However, with more severe injuries, the victim may suffer from shock, circulatory problems or damaged tissues or organs. To prevent fatal health issues from developing, it’s important to get the victim to an emergency room as soon as possible.