Severe Bleeding

Bleeding, technically known as hemorrhaging, describes the loss of blood from the circulatory system.

Bleeding can occur internally or externally, either through a natural opening such as the nose, ear, or mouth; or from a cut, scrape, or puncture to the skin.

Typically, a healthy person can endure a loss of 10–15% of their total blood volume before being at risk for serious medical complication.

First Aid for a person suffering from severe blood loss is crucial, if you are alone with a person who is bleeding profusely, immediately:

  • Lie the person down.
  • Put on a pair of gloves if you have them.
  • Check to see if a limb or extremity is the source of the bleeding injury, and if the limb does not appear to be fractured or broken, raise the injured area above the level of the person’s heart.
  • Get the person to apply direct pressure to the wound with their hand or hands to stem the blood flow, and immediately call 911.  If the person cannot apply pressure themselves, do it for them. You may need to pull the edges of the wound together before applying any pressure.
  • If an object is noticeably imbedded in the wound, do not remove the object as this may increase bleeding. Instead, apply pressure around the object.
  • As soon as the bleeding is controlled, call 911.
  • While waiting for 911, continue to apply pressure to the injury but do not apply a tourniquet. If it is done incorrectly, it may lead to an unnecessary serious injury to or loss of the leg or arm. If blood begins to saturate the dressing, do not remove it. Instead, add fresh padding over the top. If the injury occurred at home, cover the wound with a dressing, using sterile pads and a bandage (if possible) to hold them firmly in place until help arrives.

If the victim goes into shock before help arrives, do your best to protect them from breathing obstructions.  If possible, turn them on their side and loosen any restrictive clothing around the airway.  Check their breathing and pulse frequently, and begin CPR if necessary.