A public health campaign called Stop the Bleed builds on lifesaving lessons from military battlefields. The goal is to train Americans of all ages how to successfully respond to bleeding emergencies in traumas from accidents and intentional violence.
Bleeding cessation skills are something everyone should know. Mass shootings aren’t the only way people sustain life-threatening injuries. Traffic accidents and even accidents around the home can cause major bleeds that need to be stopped fast.
The first step is to identify that the victim is bleeding as clothing can hide a serious bleed. Look for pooling blood. Confusion and loss of consciousness could also be a sign the victim is bleeding out.
The next step is to call 9-1-1, and then to quickly administer first aid. Compression and tourniquets are the main ways a bystander can stop bleeding.
As a general rule, tourniquets are used on arms and legs, and compression is used on the neck, armpits and groin.
Call 911 if:
n Bleeding is severe
n You suspect internal bleeding
n There is an abdominal or chest wound
n Bleeding can't be stopped after 10 minutes of firm and steady pressure
n Blood spurts out of wound
n Follow these important steps to stop bleeding:
1. Apply direct pressure on the cut or wound with a clean cloth, tissue, or piece of gauze until bleeding stops.
2. If blood soaks through the material, don’t remove it. Put more cloth or gauze on top of it and continue to apply pressure.
3. If the wound is on the arm or leg, raise limb above the heart, if possible, to help slow bleeding.
4. Wash your hands after giving first aid and before cleaning and dressing the wound.
5. Do not apply a tourniquet unless the bleeding is severe and not stopped with direct pressure.
For significant injuries in which you don’t call 9-1-1, be sure to follow up with a medical provider as soon as possible.
Dr. Weixelman is Board Certified in Family Medicine and has completed fellowships in Emergency Medicine, Aerospace Medicine, Wilderness Medicine and Emergency Ultrasound. She is adjunct faculty with UC Health, a Flight Surgeon in the Air National Guard in Wyoming, and a physician at Stitches Acute Care Center.