If someone is bleeding the priority is to stop the blood coming out!
ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES WHEN DEALING WITH BLEEDING
It is never a priority to wash a major injury – it will be cleaned in hospital.
- Sit or lie the person down – to manage shock and prevent them from feeling dizzy and faint
- Examine the area to see if there is anything stuck in the wound – if there is do not remove it
- Elevate the bleeding area above the level of the heart to slow down the bleeding (although latest guidelines no longer recommend elevation as this alone will not stop bleeding and pressure is more important)
- Pressure – apply direct pressure on the wound to stop the blood coming out
How much blood can you afford to lose?
A person has approximately 0.5l of blood per 7kgs of body weight (although this does not increase if someone is overweight). An ‘average’ adult has roughly 6l of blood – if they lose about a 5th of their blood volume it can cause the body to shut down and go into shock.
Children have far less blood than adults! The loss of a tea cup full of blood could be fatal for a baby – note head and facial injuries bleed copiously and can look much worse than they really are.
If a casualty loses a substantial amount of blood – more than 40% of their blood volume, the body is no longer able to compensate for that amount of blood loss; and they will develop hypovolaemic shock. Hypovolaemic shock is a low volume of blood causing failure of the circulatory system, if untreated they will die.
If someone is bleeding extremely heavily from either a major artery or vein, they can lose a lot of blood very quickly and the bleeding is likely to pulsate in time with the heart. This is more pronounced with an arterial bleed but can also happen with a venous bleed too. With extremely heavy, potentially catastrophic bleeding an adult could easily lose 40% of their blood volume in 3-4 minutes and this could be even quicker when dealing with children.