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First Aid Overview

First Aid for Bleeding

First aid for a bleeding victim is crucial. If you can slow or stop blood loss until the paramedics arrive, the patient's chances of surviving increase dramatically.

Causes: Various injuries, such as scrapes, cuts, puncture wounds, or amputations, can cause external bleeding. If an object is impaled in the skin, see impaled object.

Emergency Treatment:

  1. Seek immediate medical attention for severe bleeding, cuts that are more than skin deep, cuts with ragged edges, cuts with deeply embedded dirt, impaled objects, or amputations. Call for EMS or transport victim to emergency room.

    Until medical assistance is available:
  2. Control bleeding with direct pressure:

    -Cover wound with sterile dressing or clean cloth, diaper, or sanitary napkin.

    -Place your gloved hand over dressing, and press firmly.

    -Continue pressure until bleeding stops.

    -DO NOT remove dressing. If soaked through, add more material, and continue pressure.

    -If no broken bone suspected, elevate wound higher than level of heart. DO NOT move limb if you think it is broken.

    ­External bleeding first aid
    Elevate area above the heart
    if it does not appear broken.

  3. If bleeding does not slow after 5 minutes of direct pressure, have victim lie down, continue direct pressure on wound, and apply pressure to pressure point between wound and heart:

    -For wounds on arms, press on brachial artery: Use your fingers to apply pressure to inner side of victim's upper arm, between elbow and shoulder, in groove between muscles.

    -For wounds on legs, press on femoral artery in groin: Use heel of hand to apply pressure at middle of crease where thigh meets groin.

    -Release pressure point as soon as bleeding stops.

  4. Once bleeding is controlled, secure original dressings with bandage.

  5. Observe for shock (see shock).

  6. To Recover Amputated Part: Wrap amputated part with dry gauze; DO NOT immerse in water or other liquid. Put wrapped appendage in sealed plastic bag or container. Place bag or container atop bed of ice -- DO NOT submerge. Send with victim, or transport immediately to emergency room.
Pressure Points

Causes: Can occur after direct blow or crushing injury to chest, abdomen, or torso or can result from disease-related damage to an internal organ, as in a bleeding ulcer

Symptoms: Bright red blood coughed up; bright or dark red blood in vomit; vomit that looks like coffee grounds; bright red blood or dark tar-like substance in feces; rigid, swollen, or bruised abdomen; weak, rapid, irregular breathing

Emergency Treatment
  1. Check victim's breathing. If breathing stops, see rescue breathing.

    External Bleeding first aid
    Check victim's breathing and watch
    for shock while waiting for EMS.

  2. Seek medical assistance immediately. Call for EMS.

    Until EMS arrives:

  3. Keep victim lying down on their side or sitting up if more comfortable for victim, and cover lightly with blanket.

  4. Observe for shock (see shock).

  5. DO NOT give food or drink.

To learn more about first aid and emergency care, see:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.