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Controlling a severe bleed

Basic introduction to controlling a severe bleed
Fingers with a blue bandage round them
© University of Glasgow, 2017

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

© University of Glasgow, 2017
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