Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the The University of Glasgow's online course, Basic First Aid: How to Be an Everyday Hero. Join the course to learn more.
Fingers with a blue bandage round them

Controlling a severe bleed

Controlling a severe bleed is vital to prevent shock and save lives!

Step 1 - EXPOSE:

If the wound is covered by clothing expose it to assess the type and severity

Step 2 - PRESSURE:

Is there a foreign body in the wound? (i.e. a piece of glass)


DO NOT APPLY DIRECT PRESSURE ON WOUND - this could push object deeper

DO NOT REMOVE THE OBJECT - this may cause more damage inside the wound

APPLY PRESSURE EITHER SIDE OF FOREIGN BODY - pushing the wound edges together

o NO

Apply direct pressure over wound, preferably with a clean dressing. If not then ask the patient to apply the pressure themselves with their hand

Step 3 - RAISE:

Maintain pressure on the wound and raise it above the level of the heart - reduced blood flow to wound

• Injured arm: raise over casualty’s head

• Injured leg: lie the casualty down and gently raise and hold the leg up

• Severe bleed/suspected shock: lie casualty down and raise both legs above the level of the heart

Step 4 - WARM:

Blood loss puts the casualty at risk of hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature) so keep them warm using a blanket or rug if one is available. If not then use a jumper or jacket.

Step 5 - BANDAGE:

DO NOT tourniquet the limb

If a sterile bandage available then use it to dress the wound

Wrap tight enough to maintain pressure but don’t cut off the circulation - this may threaten the limb

If blood seeps through then apply another one on top or change the bandage if saturated

Secure limb in a raised position and check occasionally to ensure circulation is not cut off

Step 6 - HELP:

Call 999 for emergency help if the bleeding continues. Continue to apply pressure and pay attention to the casualty’s breathing and consciousness level until help arrives

Share this article:

This article is from the free online course:

Basic First Aid: How to Be an Everyday Hero

The University of Glasgow